Watchdogs respond to recent indecency actions


Regarding fines on just now levied against ABC and Fox for shows that aired back in 2003, network-sponsored TVWatch says that the FCC is stepping into territory that should be the domain of parents — and says it has stats to prove it. Meanwhile, the executive director of the Center for Creative Voices in the Media argues that the FCC is broadening the so-called "gray area."

"Americans continue to believe that parents — and not the government — should control television programming in the home," said TV Watch Executive Director Jim Dyke. "And, in fact, parents do take charge of their children’s television-viewing — by monitoring programs, observing ratings, setting parental controls and using technology like DVRs and products like DVDs. Meanwhile, our government continues to usurp the role of parents by responding to activists’ ‘astroturf’ campaigns intended to inflate complaints using duplicate submissions and recruiting people who don’t even bother to view the programs they complain about. The result is millions in fines against local TV stations and reduced programming choices for all Americans." The organization says 60% of Americans oppose government intervention in program content.

Jonathan Rintels of CCVM says that use of imprecise language in the forfeiture orders is what opens the door to increased enforcement. He notes the use of words like "graphic," "repeated pandering," "titillating" and "shocking" that offer no substantive definition of exactly what is or is not offensive.

TVBR/RBR observation: Allow us to pile on. When considering the phrase "arbitrary and capricious," what could be more so than taking the fine levied at ABC for 2003 "NYPD Blue" and charging each and every originally-indicted affiliate 27.5K, and then turning around to Fox’s 2003 airing of "Married by America," charging only 7K a pop for that one, and then reducing the hit from 169 to 13 stations? Does this mean that the fare for a bare butt is 27.5K, while pixillated strippers are priced at 7K for the bargain shopper? And how come almost all of the Fox affiliates were let go, but none of the ABC affiliates were? Producers trying to stay out of trouble and constitutional scholars want to know.