I Want My MTV, Indecency and All

I Want My MTV, Indecency and All


FCC chairman Kevin J. Martin is on a mission to”…change the television landscape.” It seems he is committed to curbing indecency on cable and satellite services.

…Martin told activists that he is privately reaching out to industry leaders to address racy content on basic cable and satellite television, says Rick Schatz, the president of the National Coalition for the Protection of Children and Families, a Christian ministry. “He said the free rein of cable and satellite and satellite radio is not acceptable,” says Schatz, who sat in on the meeting. “He’s committed to seeing something is done during his tenure.”

Martin has asked media companies to offer a new “family-friendly” tier of cable programming, a package that would likely exclude channels like MTV and Spike TV. “If cable and satellite operators continue to refuse to offer parents more tools, basic indecency and profanity restrictions may be a viable alternative[.]”

Senator, and chairman of the Commerce Committee, Ted Stevens of Alaska has been pushing for such regulation as well.

“We put restrictions on over-the-air signals,” Stevens said of network broadcasts in March. “I think we can put restrictions on cable itself.” His staff has been reviewing new regulatory options, looking for ideas that would survive a court challenge on First Amendment grounds.

(Thank goodness the First Amendment is there to slow these folks down.)

What does the cable and satellite industry have to say for itself?

Worried about the bottom line, the cable and satellite industry has responded by launching a campaign to educate parents about available technology, like the V-Chip, that can block certain channels from any single television. The campaign has been opposed by a powerful coterie of family advocacy groups and activists…

And, if I may interject, there is also the notion that there are better things for kids to do than sit around watching TV. Other options for parents: playing pass, going for a walk, reading or doing homework with the kids. Heck, almost anything. The possibilities are endless.

This technology and these arguments are not compelling enough for some, when it comes to facing down the powerful draw of indecency. The draw so great that concerned activist Patrick A. Trueman can’t even trust himself not to watch porn when it is available.

Family Research Council legal director Patrick A. Trueman said he recently traveled to a Marriott Hotel in Houston, where he said three separate cable stations — not pay-per-view stations — were showing “hardcore pornography,” which he described as “sex acts.” He demanded that the hotel staff come disable the channels.

Funny when he says it, but when similarly minded activists hold sway with powerful people like Senator Stevens and FCC chairman Martin, there may be trouble brewin’. For instance, Martin has written about limiting broadcasters First Amendment rights…

…in a letter to the Parents Television Council, a group that has called for a boycott of shows like the WB’s “Everwood” because it features adults who encourage teenage characters to use birth control and, in one case, have an abortion. “Certainly broadcasters and cable operators have significant First Amendment rights, but these rights are not without boundaries,” Martin wrote to the group. “They are limited by law. They also should be limited by good taste.”

The juxtaposition of the group’s boycott activities and the quote from Martin’s letter here, begs the question: Does the interaction of fictional characters encouraging their fictional teenage children to use birth control, or even have an abortion, rise to the same level as ‘shouting fire in a crowded theater’? [Though admittedly, I cannot discern from this article whether Martin’s letter addresses the group’s boycott of “Everwood” or something else altogether.]

As a parent I take responsibility for what my kids watch. Freedom of expression is more important to me than ‘convenience’ in monitoring what’s on my TV.

Salon.com: The FCC’s cable crackdown

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  • Joshua

    It seems to me that people like Pat Trueman aren’t really pushing for cable indecency regulation to protect kids, but rather to prevent indecent programming from going mainstream (as shows like South Park, The Sopranos and Sex and the City already have done). People like this are called “cultural conservatives” for a reason – as they see it, they’re fighting to prevent sex, violence and vulgarity from creeping any further into the mainstream than it already has.

    In any event, based on what I’ve read on other blogs (such as Volokh.com), the general consensus is that any attempt to regulate subscription-based TV or radio content has just about zero chance of surviving a court challenge. In that case, the FCC may ultimately find itself forced to choose between doing away with indecency restrictions on the broadcast side as well, or letting broadcast TV and radio slowly die, unable to compete with their subscription-based counterparts on a level playing field.

  • http://www.staticsilence.net/ StatVoid

    Cable & satellite operators should offer “family friendly” packages…at least something so that irresponsible parents can pipe down. Those who actually care and monitor what their kids are watching are people I applaud. I’m not saying I agree with all their decisions, but if they can do their parenting without infringing on other people, then for that I give them tons of credit.

    The PTC is rediculous, they are a strong-arm group of censorship extremists who are so unable to control themselves or their children that they need the government to do it for them. I’m sure many of them were the product of strict parents who actually tried to discipline them and when they got older they told themselves, “my child won’t have the ‘awful’ childhood that I did.” Because of this, they have decided that in order to do that they can’t discipline their children what-so-ever (i.e., spanking, raising their voice, etc), so instead they have decided to find ways to get the government to tell everybody that this or that is so bad. That is why many of these parents have children who grow up resenting them and being bigger problems than they would’ve been if the parents had just done some real, old-school parenting.

    The problem with the people on the far-right and far-left sides of the political (or any other subject) spectrum is that they are stubborn and see things with an idealist point of view. The problem with the middle–which there are far more of in this country–is that they don’t care enough about anything to organize and tell these people to back off. That is the one major fault about this country and because of that our so-called freedoms are deteriorating (quite) slowly but surely.