The First Amendment was instituted to guarantee precisely the type of activities pursued by the PTC: free speech and disseminating information. The PTC does not censor.
"When private individuals agitate to eliminate TV programs they dislike, or threaten to boycott the companies that support those programs with advertising dollars, .... their actions are perfectly legal; in fact, their protests are protected by the First Amendment right to freedom of speech."
- From the National Coalition Against Censorship Website http://www.ncac.org/about/faq.html
Shows airing on broadcast television use the public airwaves. Because broadcast channels are available free over the air, it is presumed that children of any age can access their programming, and during prime time, it is presumed that they are doing so. According to the Federal Communications Act of 1934, which still sets the guidelines for the use of this public property, programming must be in the "public interest," i.e., serve a common publicly recognized good. It has never been supposed by the Supreme Court that broadcasters have an absolute right to air whatever they wish with no responsibility to the public interest.
The First Amendment begins: Congress shall make no law… and is supposed to limit the powers of the federal government only. The Parents Television Council is not a federal entity or a legislative body. It has neither the power to forbid programming nor the desire for the government to ban legal programming. Instead, the PTC operates by providing members and advertisers with information about the content of programs. Where prime time programming contains significant amounts of material unsuitable for children in a timeslot and venue where children presumably have access to that material, the PTC asks advertisers to reconsider their sponsorship of the program.
The activities of the PTC are actually a classic case of the First Amendment at work. The PTC is an organization of over a million private citizens who have organized to exercise our right to speak out about what we view as a significant problem. We wish to raise the issue of the potential abuse of broadcasting privileges, hold advertisers accountable for the programming they sponsor, and point out the dramatic changes in television content. We address issues through providing information and educating viewers, sponsors, and networks, not through law or force, and have the right to express the opinions shared by our members. By the same token, advertisers also have the right to place their ads as they see fit, with the knowledge that they may be offending a significant number of viewers.
The NAACP, the Anti-Defamation League, and other groups often attempt to manipulate or alter television portrayals of, or references to, members of their constituencies. Most people do not consider these efforts censorship. Instead, such efforts are recognized as a legitimate exercise of the right to free speech. The PTC is doing virtually the same thing by raising our concerns about programming that we and our members believe is harmful.
Parents Television Council
707 Wilshire Boulevard #2075
Los Angeles, CA 90017
Phone: (213) 403-1300