• Why Broadcasters Are Afraid

    by  • June 26, 2013 • Broadcast Decency • 5 Comments

    As can be seen by their actions last week in demanding that the Federal Communications Commission completely abandon enforcing broadcast decency laws, the broadcast networks are in panic mode. There are two reasons for this. 

    Firstly, last week, the public comment period on indecency policy ended…and more than one hundred thousand Americans stated they want the FCC to continue to enforce decency standards. This is a humiliating blow for the networks – especially since they love to claim their programming is just “giving people what they want.” The fact that over 100,000 Americans took the time to navigate the FCC’s arcane public filing procedure to tell the regulatory agency to enforce the law speaks volumes. It proves very definitely that not everyone is a fan of the graphic gore, nudity, sex and explicit language the networks are shoving into homes. It also creates a good deal of public pressure on the FCC; while it might be easy enough to dismiss a couple hundred comments, over 100,000 comments from the public are not brushed aside and ignored so easily.

    And secondly, during his confirmation hearing as FCC Chairman, nominee Tom Wheeler said of current TV programming, “When I see some things I kind of grit my teeth and say ‘is this what I want my grandkids to be seeing?’” Recalling the legendary 1960s FCC Chairman Newton Minow (who called television a “vast wasteland”), Wheeler acknowledged that there was a role for the FCC to play in encouraging higher quality content: “[Minow] did that without regulatory authority…Maybe it’s possible to do the same kind of thing today, and say: ‘Can’t we do better?’”

    But the networks have become so accustomed to having an FCC chair who is their lapdog that even the mere prospect of being asked not to show garbage terrifies them. To be fair, there is a reason for them to react this way; the FCC’s last chair, Julius Genachowski, threw away over one million indecency complaints from the public, and attempted to gut indecency enforcement entirely. But soon, there will be a new FCC chair; and the industry is panicking at the thought that he might not be as willing to look the other way at indecency as his predecessor.

    The entertainment cartel wants there to be absolutely no restrictions whatsoever on the amount of gore, sex, nudity, and extreme content they dump into every living room in America – using the airwaves owned by the American people to do so. If someone paraded around naked on a public playground in front of your children, and when you complained said, “If you don’t like it, don’t watch,” what would you do? You’d call the police, in full expectation that they’d put a stop to it. And that is what Americans have done with the FCC – called on the government agency to do its job and enforce the law. Over 100,000 Americans have demanded it.

    But one network was right about one thing: in its comments to the Commission, CBS said that the FCC should have a policy that resists outside political pressure. We agree. The FCC should resist the political, financial, and lobbying pressure that the networks, which have  billions of dollars they’ve made off using a public utility, can bring to bear.

    The FCC has to decide what its mission is.  Will it continue to be an advocate for the networks, blindly obeying the entertainment cartel’s army of slick lawyers and lobbyists? Or will it listen to the voice of American parents, citizens, and taxpayers, who simply want to protect their children from an onslaught that threatens to corrupt them and undermine our society?



    Christopher Gildemeister is the PTC’s Head of Research Operations. He began as an Entertainment Analyst at the PTC in 2005. From 2007-2016, he was Senior Writer/Editor, responsible for communicating the PTC’s message to the public through newsletters, columns, and the PTC Watchdog blog. Dr. Gildemeister holds a Ph.D. from The Catholic University of America.

    5 Responses to Why Broadcasters Are Afraid

    1. Mary Donovan
      June 28, 2013 at 7:02 am

      Hearing that network broadcasters are a little afraid of having the law enforced is the best news I’ve had in a long time.

    2. Patricia Davis
      June 28, 2013 at 5:28 am

      Thank you. I’m with you, PTC.

    3. Jesse Skeen
      June 27, 2013 at 9:49 pm

      The FCC has proven itself worthless by refusing to ban the use of continuous onscreen network logos which ruin the picture, and are now often accompanied by constant promos for other shows. The amount of commercial time has also gotten out of hand, especially with the full-length “paid programming” that dominates the late-night hours and has even been shown 24 hours a day on some digital subchannels! The amount of digital compression on most stations is awful as well- the FCC should have set minimum bitrates for a higher-quality picture. I would rather see these issues addressed before they concentrate too much on regulating content.

    4. Bradley Laing
      June 26, 2013 at 10:09 pm


      TV show description:
      Airing on Saturday nights opposite parts of Gunsmoke and Have Gun, Will Travel, this debate program pits two internationally recognized public figures against one another as they express their very different opinions on a specific issue of the day. Topics include everything from birth control and censorship to foreign policy.

      The show is initially moderated by John K. M. McCaffery. He left on May 27, 1961 and was replaced by Edwin Newman on the June 10th broadcast. In some cases, local stations would air just the first half of the program and then host their own debate on the same topic on a local level.

      —-leaving aside the biases of the executive producers and hosts of “The Nation’s Future,” is this something you would like people to watch on Tv again, 42 years later?

      —-At the time, did anyone com[plain that an actual bill in congress had been passed, or stopped, because of anything done on this Tv show?

    5. Bradley Laing
      June 26, 2013 at 10:03 pm

      1.) As reading “Media Life” should tell you, the only tv show on the broadcast networks that gained viewers from year-to-year was the CBS series “Person of Interest.” Everything else that was an established show (but not a new fall show) lost audience. I have no idea if reducing the amount of violence on these tv series, accross the board, would have drawn in an audience that would have gained them viewers, or not.

      2.) One thing Nelson Minnow said was:

      I am talking about this past season. Some were wonderfully entertaining, such as The Fabulous Fifties, the Fred Astaire Show and the Bing Crosby Special; some were dramatic and moving, such as Conrad’s Victory and Twilight Zone; some were marvelously informative, such as The Nation’s Future, CBS Reports, and The Valiant Years. I could list many more programs that I am sure everyone here felt enriched his own life and that of his family. When television is good, nothing—not the theater, not the magazines or newspapers—nothing is better.

      —-In terms of non-fiction, informative shows, a glance at the “Tv BY the Numbers” websit shows…


      60 Minutes-06/23 R CBS 8407
      7 NCIS-06/18 R CBS 8127
      8 Big Bang Theory, THE-06/20 R CBS 7657
      9 WINNER IS 6/17-06/17 S NBC 6687
      10 KIA NBA COUNTDOWN-GM 7-06/20 S ABC 6563
      11 NBC NHL STANLEY CUP FNL#4-06/19 S NBC 6459
      12 CSI-06/19 R CBS 6406
      13 NCIS: LOS ANGELES-06/18 R CBS 6033
      14 AMERICAN BAKING COMP-06/19 CBS 5804
      15 Two and a Half Men-06/20 R CBS 5799
      16 Criminal Minds-06/19 R CBS 5781
      17 MASTERCHEF WED-9P-06/19 FOX 5777
      18 Person Of Interest-06/20 R CBS 5768
      19 NBC NHL STANLEY CUP FNL#5-06/22 S NBC 5632
      20 BACHELORETTE, THE-06/17 ABC 5472
      21 Blue Bloods-06/21 R CBS 5415
      22 KIA NBA COUNTDOWN-GM 6-06/18 S ABC 5360
      23 Person Of Interest-SP-06/18 SR CBS 5276
      24 20/20-FRI-06/21 ABC 5273

      —The population Minnow wanted to watch non-fiction is reduced to two news magazine shows.

      —And, as I understand it, there are these people you know who spend most of their time complaining about how bad “20/20″ and “60 Minutes” are. Although, to be honest, if Minnow like liberal media bias, why shouldn’t he like “20/20″ and “60 MInutes?”

      —So, with all hese images of kids in the margins of my posting, what about non-fiction television for adults?

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