Tuesday, April 9, 2013

FCC Considering Rule Change that may allow for more Indecency on Broadcast TV

On April 1st the FCC issued a public notice seeking comment on "adopting egregious cases policy". What this means is that instead of crossing the indecent line one time, one must be "outstandingly bad" or "shocking" for something to be considered "indecent". This comes on the heels of the Supreme Court's decision in FCC vs. Fox Television Stations in which the Supreme Court ruled that the FCC violated the Fifth Amendment's "due process" clause. It appears the FCC did not provide sufficient notice to the network of a modified "indecent policy" rule change when it tried Fox on broadcasts that occurred in 2002 and 2003. This case with a long history of other cases illustrates a difficult challenge in a rapidly changing entertainment world.

In the last four years the FCC has not issued any indecency fines even though indecency seems to increase. According to FCC chairman Julius Genachowski (who will be stepping down in the weeks to come) the FCC has been battling lawsuits claiming their policies violate free speech. So, what does free speech entail? Does it allow me to say whatever I want to whomever I want, whenever I want? Does expression of nudity on broadcast television fall under the same guidelines as the words that are used? It appears that the FCC is confused concerning its definitions and role. Could it be that the FCC is more concerned about the influence of major broadcast networks than representing the people?

Even though a public notice has been issued, which allows sixty days for comment, not many people will respond. Either they don't know about the request for comment or they don't care. In either case, ignorance or apathy will allow a deterioration in our nation. This appears to be similar to other areas of response to government action.

What are you willing to do? Stand and be heard, or sit and complain. I believe there is only one correct response.

By the way, "egregious" is vague in relation to guidelines and is essentially unenforceable. Where is the line to "outstandingly bad"?