Wednesday, August 10, 2005

FCC decency battle brews

As gratifying as it is to see that the FCC has finally woken up and noticed that payola does exist in the music industry, you have to wonder why it took New York Attorney General Elliot Spitzer to remind them of their job. Shouldn't they have been the ones who would spearhead investigations into this practice since they're supposed to regular radio among other things? What might distract them from doing their jobs? "Indecency."

Loathe as it is to admit, Michael Powell now may look a little better. He was a craven, boot-licking tool of the major media corporations, looking to fatten their pockets by letting them gobble-up as many stations as they wanted but at least he was squeamish at times about battling real or imagined obscenity on the air waves. He waffled on Bono's spontaneous TV explicative and decided after the fact that Saving Private Ryan was OK for prime time television even with curse words (even though he only revealed that to broadcasters AFTER the fact).

So while Jr. Powell will be mostly missed by the people he was supposed to regulate, his successor looks to take the job of levying fines on broadcasters to a whole new level. Kevin Martin went so far as to hire a consultant, Penny Nance, who was already pushing the FCC to pounce harder on TV/radio stations that were peddling what she considered to be slime. Her group had as part of its mission the job of "helping... to bring Biblical principles into all levels of public policy." Which is all good and well for a theocracy, right? (And to think that we're worried that Middle East countries will become hardcore religious states...)

The most interesting passage from theMediaweekk article linked above is this:

"In a January letter to President Bush, Nance joined others in calling for stricter enforcement of indecency laws and identifying a "huge indecency problem"” on basic cable. She has said TV broadcasters should restore a family hour when racy programming is held off the air. In 2002, she asked regulators to ensure direct broadcast satellite provider DirecTV did not fall under control of News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch, whom she dubbed a purveyor of "“must-sleaze TV" on the Fox network. (Murdoch gained control of DirecTV in 2003, after regulators blocked its merger with EchoStar Communications that Nance backed.) "

Uh oh. Can you say "conflict"? This isn't the first time that the religious practitioners have bumped head with the politpragmatiststists. Shortly after the last election, some Christian conservatives expressed concern that their moral stances weren't being pushed enough by the Republicans. And what kind of arguments are you going to hear now?

Practitioner: We've got to fine Murdoch and teach him a lesson

Pragmatistitist: Um... but he's... they're... supporting us.

Practitioner: But he's still peddling sleeze

Pragmatistitist: But we rely on him and Fox News for getting our message across unfiltered.

And back and forth, on and on. Who will win out in this battle in the end? If pragmitists do, they're going to further alien their Republican base. If the practitioners win out, they're going to chop the legs off their biggest, best media outlet. Kind of a no-win situation, ain't it?

Either way, the FCC is going to be absolutely fine-happy now and make the American entertainment landscape safe for kiddies everywhere while the adults will probably shift even more to cable for shows that don't entirely insult their intelligence. If Martin and company really want to start fining and investigating improper financial procedures, might I suggest looking into CMJ once they're done with Clear Channel (who've also proven to be chummy with Republicans and may cause future conflicts) and the networks?


Blogger Roque said...

God bless Spitzer. How the shite did the Republican machine even green-light his appointment, anyway?

11:26 AM  

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