MIM Comments on new FCC broadcast indecency policy statement, April 2001

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NEW YORK (9 April 2001) – The Federal Communications Commission issued a Policy Statement on Friday 6 April (FCC 01-90) on “Enforcement Policies Regarding Broadcast Indecency.”

Morality in Media president Robert Peters had the following comments:

“As Commissioner Gloria Tristani points out in her dissent, the problem with the broadcast indecency law is not the alleged vagueness of the indecency definition. The problem is ‘lax enforcement.'”One reason enforcement is ‘lax’ is because the Commission refuses to lift a regulatory finger until a complainant provides the Commission with a tape or transcript of the offending program. Since listeners and viewers usually have no advance warning about indecent content, tapes or transcripts are usually unavailable.

“Thus, while the Commission monitors TV programming to ensure compliance with laws regulating children’s programming, it refuses to monitor the programs of radio shock jocks which have generated hundreds of indecency complaints. At the FCC, too many breakfast commercials for kids are a serious matter – but nonstop vulgarity and sex talk for breakfast, lunch and dinner are not.

“But the real reason indecency law enforcement is lax is because some Commissioners and bureaucrats see their responsibility primarily as protecting media interests, instead of serving the public interest. Whether motivated by career aspirations or by personal ideologies, these individuals refuse to fulfill their statutory responsibility to effectively enforce the indecency law.

“If the President and the Senate are truly committed to upholding decency standards in the broadcast media, then they must act that way by appointing Commissioners who share that commitment. Now that President Bush has announced his choices for FCC Commissioners, the Senate needs to question Kevin J. Martin, Kathleen Q. Abernathy, and Michael J. Copps about their commitment to vigorously enforcing the broadcast indecency law.

“The President and the Senate should also appoint Supreme Court Justices who can still understand the difference between viewpoints (no matter how offensive they may be) and indecency in a medium like broadcast which, in the Pacifica Court’s own words, ‘confronts the citizen in the privacy of the home’ and is ‘uniquely accessible to children, even those too young to read.'”

MORALITY IN MEDIA is a nonprofit national interfaith organization, with headquarters in New York City, working through constitutional means to curb traffic in obscenity and to uphold standards of decency in the mainstream media.

Author: MIM   04/09/2001

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