Monday, July 21, 2008


I just saw the news release which details the overruling by the 3rd Circut Court of Appeals of the FCC's fine on CBS for the supposed "wardrobe malfunction" of Janet Jackson's during the Super Bowl in 2004. The FCC fined CBS $550,000. (Which, in 2004, a 30-second commercial during the Super Bowl went for over $2 million dollars!) However, today that fine was voided because the FCC acted harshly, and enacted a stricter fine than usual. In their own words,
The court found that the FCC deviated from its nearly 30-year practice of fining indecent broadcast programming only when it was so "pervasive as to amount to shock treatment' for the audience."
In over 30 years, the FCC has not enforced, to such a degree, the decency standard for which it punished CBS. The Court decided that this fine was a departure from their current indecency standards, which, I may suppose, is far more lax.

"In a statement Monday, CBS said it hoped the decision 'will lead the FCC to return to the policy of restrained indecency enforcement it followed for decades.'"

What got my goat about this story is not the judiciary's ruling, for once. Obviously they have to weigh the fairness of fines imposed in the past versus this fine. And the court found that this fine was too harsh, from what the FCC usually imposes. And that's my problem. Why is this one the harshest fine the FCC has imposed in a 30 year period? I was just as outraged about the whole bare-breast thing. (It was indecent, for Heaven's sake!), but are they telling me that nothing on T.V. has ever come as close to being indecent as that was? It was 1/16 of a second of bareness. I'm upset that now the FCC decides to stand up for decency, and what a shocker, they get slapped down. How about enforcing standards all along? How's that for policy? It bothers me that the FCC doesn't enforce the decency standard without the audience being up-in-arms about it. It takes an entire segment of the U.S. population to get our government agencies (which, hello, isn't that what their supposed to do?) to act in our interests, without us always being on their tail.

There is a lot of freedom, and when we try to impose standards and that freedom is restricted, the courts will attempt to smack it down. The standards for decency has been too loose for the FCC to all of the sudden attempt strict compliance.

I am concerned about what this means for the future. I think this means that we are the ones who should impose decency in our lives and in our children's lives. We should start standing up for decency on the micro scale, so that eventually, hopefully, decency is a part of the larger American culture.

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