Patterico's Pontifications

11/7/2006

More Broadcast Indeceny Hair-Splitting From The FCC

Filed under: General,Government,Law,Public Policy — Justin Levine @ 5:52 am



[posted by Justin Levine]

The FCC issues what is likely its most important ruling on broadcast indecency in nearly 3 years.

If I’m interpreting this correctly (?), morning radio would still need to be cautious as usual – but it can now be a bit less nervous about discussing the intimate details of Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky, since that was/is a bona fide news story.

Some serious hair-splitting is taking place with this policy, but that has always been the case with broadcast indecency. If you are going to have rules against indecency, hair-splitting will always be a practical necessity on some level. Its just important to note that the hairs in this instance have gotten a tad bit finer in recent years. The same basic rule applies though: Context is king.

A partial dissent worth reading here.

[posted by Justin Levine]

3 Responses to “More Broadcast Indeceny Hair-Splitting From The FCC”

  1. 1. American taxpayers OWN the “free” airwaves.
    2. American taxpayers don’t WANT indecency on their airwaves.
    3. The only people who do not KNOW what constitutes indecency are in the FCC and the Supreme Court. All the rest of us know it when we see it.
    4. All that being said – we are rapidly approaching Soddom & Gomorrah and that’s a fact!

    Gayle Miller (855514)

  2. I’m afraid the type of hair the FCC is splitting may in itself be considered an indecent act. As far as the Bill and Monica debacle, I think that involved hair spitting.

    Boss429 (0f4cff)

  3. Gayle Miller wrote in #1 above:

    1. American taxpayers OWN the “free” airwaves.

    Half truth. The American People own the airwaves whether they pay taxes or not.

    2. American taxpayers don’t WANT indecency on their airwaves.

    False. Every indecency NAL issued in recent years has been based on complaints organized and orchestrated by groups such as Parents Television Council. The FCC requires only one complaint to act.

    3. The only people who do not KNOW what constitutes indecency are in the FCC and the Supreme Court. All the rest of us know it when we see it.

    Half truth. Only the FCC and the Supreme Court can determine what material is indecent. But the rest of us have varying opinions about what is indecent or not. Some would find the works of Shakespeare to be indecent, while others would find nothing that can be spoken or shown on TV to be indecent.

    4. All that being said – we are rapidly approaching Soddom & Gomorrah and that’s a fact!

    Not a fact at all. There was exactly one righteous man in Sodom and Gomorrah, Lot. There are more self righteous prudes in most any American state than there were people of any stripe in Sodom and Gomorrah.

    Fact: The FCC’s indecency rules are used as a tool by the organized religiously self righteous to inflict their view of what is acceptable for you and me to see and hear.

    Fact: The FCC can, and will, act upon as little as one complaint of indecency.

    Fact: The FCC does not even require the complainant to have a recording of the material complained about. They can act on sworn testimony alone to determine whether indecency occurred.

    Fact: Many meritorious programs and material simply cannot be aired for fear of receiving an NAL from the FCC. If someone complains about Shakespeare or other great works that include verbiage that can be characterized as “indecent”, the FCC can and will act on the complaint.

    Fact: Even if some “indecent” verbiage is “bleeped” the FCC can still find the broadcast indecent if the viewer or listener can infer that the bleeped material was offensive to their delicate tastes.

    Fact: Recent legislation by Congress sets the forfeiture for a single incident of “indecency” so high (over $300,000) that most small noncommercial stations would be put out of business by a single complaint. That is why they fear to air great art or even social commentary that might possibly offend one lone prude.

    Fact: The FCC can order a forfeiture even for “indecent” words spoken by a member of a noisy crowd in an ordinary news broadcast.

    See John Crigler’s “Test Your Indecency Knowledge“.

    Occasional Reader (6af5e6)


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