Rear Window Ethics Rear Window Ethics: Federal Cable Decency Standards?

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Federal Cable Decency Standards?

Anyone who watched Sunday's Academy Awards could tell you that the show was...well...bland. And not just normally bland. Blander than the normal levels of Oscar blandness. The likely cause? Broadcast networks' continual fear of the FCC's wrath (strong-armed by the PTC's junta of form letter-senders).

Rear Window Ethics
"That's right honey! No more Sopranos! Just Judge Judy and General Hospital all day."

ABC forced Robin Williams to cut a song he was going to perform from the show because it made fun of Sponge-Bob Square-Pants' alleged homosexuality in the eyes of James Dobson. The song in question included lines such as "Fred Flinstone is dyslexic, Jessica Rabbit is really a man, Olive Oyl is really anorexic, and Casper is in the Ku Klux Klan."

Even Chris Rock was entirely tame (read: boring), possibly influenced by new legislation that raises fines to $500,000 and allows for performers to be fined.

But this is all at least understandable. Broadcast television is sent out over the airwaves for any and all to see. Governmental authority over the broadcast industry is as old as the industry itself. Most people don't throw their hands up that the PTC and the FCC make broadcast television more boring than watching fly paper on a hot summer's day, because, thank goodness, they have cable.

Today, however, Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Ted Stevens (R), Alaska, is beginning a push to apply the same stringent standards, which render network programming so flaccid, upon cable and subscription radio and television. That means no programming TV-14 and up until "late-night" hours.

"Cable is a much greater violator in the indecency area...I think we have the same power to deal with cable as over-the-air. There has to be some standard of decency."

Let's put it this way: If people who even occasionally watch television during the day (including those who work at home, ahem) are forced to watch programming akin to what the networks air before 8pm, we're not going to watch.

Washington Post story