In our April 5 blog, we addressed the FCC's proposal to review and establish new standards for "indecency" on radio and television broadcast stations. We there noted that the FCC Chairman had already ordered the FCC's Enforcement Bureau to focus on "investigating egregious indecency cases."
And that alone seems to have raised the ire of public interest groups whose agenda is to "protect our children" from the implicit harms of too much skin, a few curse words and any blatant reference to sex. Encouraged by the Parents Television Council, a major player in this area, more than 100,000 comments (mostly single page letters criticizing the FCC's position) have been filed in advance of the procedural comment date. And the FCC has now postponed the date for filing formal comments until June 19.
Chairman Genachowski's successor, Tom Wheeler, will be the one to wrestle with this problem.
- Query: will Mr. Wheeler, who hails from the much liberated cable industry (as a former President of the National Cable Television Association) and, more recently, the CTIA Wireless Coalition, find all of the anxiety about this matter "much ado about nothing?"
For sure, his introduction to this much tortured and litigated area of FCC policy will be an "eye-opener" to say the least. How he ultimately will come out is anyone's guess but certainly it will take him time to figure out what the right balance is so don't look for a resolution any time soon.
On the other hand, it is unlikely to be unclear for long where the politics are on this issue. Unable to resolve the nation's numerous fiscal and other problems, you will find our national representatives easily chiming in on this "win-win" situation by taking a public stand against the asserted ills of "indecency" in broadcast programming notwithstanding that the total collective viewership of cable channels, for example -- where no such restrictions exist -- now exceed that of television broadcasters; in some cases, by significant levels.