Sunday, February 27, 2005

Media Nannies Want More Spanking

The Parents Television Council, a prudish media watchdog group founded by right-winger L. Brent Bozell III (click here to read my profile of the group), is all in a lather over what's been going on at the FCC.

It seems that departing FCC Chairman Michael Powell's final act on January 24 was to reject 36 PTC indecency complaints filed against such dangerous and subversive TV shows as Friends and The Simpsons. Buzzmachine has an exhaustive list of all 36 complaints as well as a hilarous explanation from the FCC of why it's alright to say "dick" on television.

The PTC voiced their dismay at what they called a "vacuous opinion" and reaffirmed their crusade against any entertainment not fit for a six-year-old.

A couple of weeks ago, they claimed victory when the House voted overwhelmingly to raise the maximum fine for a violation from $32,500 to $500,000; an increase of over 1400%. The FCC has been far more eager to levy fines in recent years (compare a total of $7.7 million last year to $48,000 just four years ago), and this legislation could make those fines soar.

But, of course, this is not enough for the PTC. Apparently Michael Powell, despite presiding over these enormous increases and levying some of the highest fines in FCC history against Howard Stern and CBS, just isn't serious about broadcast indecency. That's why the PTC views his departure as a prime opportunity to pressure President Bush into appointing a PTC-approved candidate to chair the FCC.

In a press release entitled "Powell Resignation Creates Opportunity for American Families," Brent Bozell inexplicably says, "...Michael Powell has brought us four years of failed leadership at the FCC. His reluctance to enforce broadcast decency laws have led to confusion and uncertainty." He goes on to "strongly support" FCC Commissioner and Harry Potter lookalike Kevin Martin as Powell's replacement. Martin, along with fellow Commissioner Michael Copps, dissented from the FCC's rejection of the PTC's complaints in January. (Click here to read about Martin's coziness with the Bush Administration.)

The PTC links to a 2003 letter from Martin to Bozell (tellingly, he ccs several right-wing groups including the Christian Coalition and the Family Research Council) in which Martin affirms his committment to higher fines and stricter standards when it comes to broadcast indecency.

The PTC is increasing its lobbying effort to get Martin appointed to the FCC chairmanship, and they have links to the House and Senate on their website so supporters can weigh in on the issue. Maybe the other side should get mobilized as well, lest we wake up one day and find that PAX is the only channel left. Click here to write your Senators and here to contact your Representatives.

Better yet, you can send this helpful diagram to anyone you know who supports the PTC and their censorship crusade:

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