Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Vive Free Speech!

I remember the huge disappointment cable TV was when I discovered that most channels air cut or edited versions of R-rated material rather than the uncut original. Comedy Central, TNT, Bravo, A&E, etc., all err on the side of edits?

I've always asked, "Why"? I don't like the idea that broadcast television is edited, but I concede the rationale that broadcast TV and radio are freely available, and kids could hear f-bombs or see a titty. I still think that these things are not a huge problem, and that parents should be the keeper of the remote, not the FCC. As consumers who pay the bill for cable and satellite radio, we should choose to hear the profanity, if that's what we want.

Bad news: Now Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) wants to impose the FCC's broadcast TV and radio rules on the cable and satellite networks. From CNN:
"Cable is a much greater violator in the indecency area," the Alaska Republican told the National Association of Broadcasters, which represents most local television and radio affiliates. "I think we have the same power to deal with cable as over-the-air" broadcasters.

"There has to be some standard of decency," he said. But he also cautioned that "No one wants censorship."

Stevens told reporters afterward that he would push legislation to apply the standards to cable TV and satellite radio and television. It could become part of a pending bill to boost fines on broadcasters who violate indecency restrictions or of an effort to overhaul U.S. communications laws.

If Stevens is successful, it could pose new problems for raunchy radio host Howard Stern, who has said he was forced to leave broadcast radio for satellite radio to avoid decency limits -- and Federal Communications Commission fines.
All this in the wake of Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction". Thanks, Justin.

There's hope from an unexpected source.
While lawmakers and some parents groups are anxious to wipe the airwaves clean of indecency after singer Janet Jackson bared her breast last year during the Super Bowl halftime show, President Bush has said parents are the first line of defense and can just "turn it off."
Amen, Mr. President. It never surprises me when Republicans want to alter or censor broadcasts to eliminate cuss words. What disappoints me (it doesn't surprise me anymore) is whena Republican like Stevens puffs his chest to let business know that the governement is supreme, and business better know its' place.
Stevens said he disagreed "violently" with assertions by the cable industry
that Congress does not have the authority to impose limits on its content.

"If that's the issue they want to take on, we'll take it on and let the
Supreme Court decide," he said.

For my lefty friends, this is the danger of describing the airwaves as "the public airwaves" rather than the private property they should rightly be. If they are "public" the government absolutely does have in its power the ability to dictate and to censor. Best to ensure that they are private property so as to weaken this power.

1 comment:

Al said...

Yet if I copied the First Amendment onto a 2x4 and knocked Senator Stevens in the head with it, it'd come out like I was the bad guy.