Last month, the FCC asked for public comments on its new policy of taking action only against “egregious” violations of broadcast decency law. The deadline was May 20th. Though nearly 100,000 Americans filed comments demanding the agency enforce current standards, the FCC has extended the deadline – because the entertainment industry told them to.
With only a week to go before the cutoff deadline for filing public comments, the National Association of Broadcasters said it needed more time “to poll its members on the change and its impact.” The FCC happily obeyed, and gave them another two months.
This is outrageous. Does anyone really believe that if the PTC or various other citizens advocacy groups had asked for an extension of the deadline, the FCC would have complied? Of course not. But because the entertainment cartel needs more time to gin up support and bring its billions of dollars and its army of well-paid lawyers, lobbyists, spin doctors, and media insiders to bear, it ordered the FCC to extend the deadline. And the organization which is supposed to regulate the industry and hold it accountable instead obeyed its dictates without question.
But this can hardly come as a surprise. After all, the FCC has already thrown out over one million indecency complaints filed by the American people, on the grounds that such complaints were “stale.” (They were “stale” because the FCC sat on them for almost five years and refused to even look at them.)
And the proposed new indecency rules also play into the entertainment industry’s hands. Previously, nudity and profanity were against the law. But the FCC ignored violation after violation, refusing to act. Then, a few months ago – just before he announced his impending retirement – FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski announced the FCC’s new policy: it would only enforce decency laws against “egregious” violations. Naturally, the FCC refuses to tell anyone what exactly will count as “egregious” content, though one suggestion is that nudity, sexual or excretory content, or profanity, will have to be “repeated” and “deliberate.”
So: one shot of nudity will not be illegal. It will have to be “repeated.” And apparently, anyone filing an indecency complaint will be responsible for reading the broadcaster’s mind and proving it was “deliberate.”
This deadline extension is merely the latest instance of the FCC’s unwillingness to do its job and stand up for the rights of American citizens. What happened is obvious: the FCC and the entertainment industry saw the vast number of comments by average Americans in favor of maintaining the current rules. Normally, the entertainment cartel doesn’t care what viewers think; but with almost 100,000 people demanding decency, it finally realized it needed to take action. But by that point, there was only a week left. So, they asked their cronies at the FCC for more time – and got it, no questions asked.
The deadline for first comments is now June 20, and for “reply” comments, July 18. This will allow the entertainment industry plenty of time to attempt to strongarm the FCC into once more ignoring the will of the people.
But if the extension gives the entertainment industry an opportunity, it gives proponents of decency one as well. The deadline has been extended for EVERYONE – which means that even more Americans can take this opportunity to file comments in favor of maintaining enforcement of current broadcast decency laws.
It is more important than ever for Americans to ACT NOW, and file their comments. For instructions on how to do so, please click here.