NBC Chairman Slams The Federal Censorship Commission

from the busted dept

In recent years, the FCC has increasingly been cracking down on televised indecency, which is in part due to all of the “outraged” parents out there who for some reason can’t control their children’s viewing. As we see in many areas, these days, everyone is forced to live by rules based on what’s good “for the children”, which sounds good, but is rather noxious in practice. Jerry Brito points to an op-ed written by NBC chief Bob Wright that lashes out at the FCC — The Federal Censorship Commission, as he puts it. In addition to some egregious examples of censorship, he shows, with a little bit of math, how absurd it is that television content is regulated based on children’s viewing habit. Of all households, only 15% still get their TV over the air (the form of distribution regulated by the FCC) and of those households, only a third have children. So it’s based on only 5% of households that the rules are set. Wouldn’t it make more sense for the rules to based on the majority of households, and then let the exceptions decide whether or not they want to watch TV?

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Comments on “NBC Chairman Slams The Federal Censorship Commission”

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Clint says:

Cable and Satellite

Luckily the FCC doesn’t have much power over pay services like cable and satellite….lets hope the never do! The FCC was created to allocate the airwaves so that there wasn’t interference between commercial, governmental, and aviation radios. It’s BS that they’re in the censorship business too. It’s the parents’ place to watch their kids, not the governments!

Aaron says:


“Of all households, only 15% still get their TV over the air”

Yes, but they still use their cable and satellite services to watch the broadcast stations. Almost all the programming is pre-taped anyway, I don’t know why they can’t distribute an un-cleaned version to cable providers and an FCC-safe version for broadcast. There would be some extra cost, but the fact that Mr. Wright is complaining means that he thinks FCC rules are holding back his profits, so there is likely some economic benefit to being more “edgy” on cable which should offset those costs.

Obsidian says:

One little mistake

While I wholeheartedly agree with the sentiments expressed in the editorial, I need to correct Mr. Wright’s math.

If 15% of the country gets it’s television over the airwaves rather than cable or satellite, and only 5% of that 15% has children under 18, then that actually works out to 0.0075% of the population, according to Google calculator. So, in actuality, the FCC is making it’s rules based on the whims of less than 1% of the American public, not 5%. Which is even more damning for the FCC.

dre says:

Another, stronger, argument

The “for the children” argument is interesting because it assumes that children will be damaged, somehow, by seeing half naked people hugging and kissing on broadcast TV. There is no evidence that I know of that suggest seeing such is bad for children. Someone should require that the FCC do the same the kind of double-blind clinical trials the FDA requires for new drugs before they claim that this or that content is bad for the kids.

If one thinks about other cultures, other times in human history, and evolution, it seems reasonable to assume that seeing others behave affectionately towards each other isn’t going to produce damage to children’s psyches.

Obsidian says:

I did not get it wrong.

“only 15% still get their TV over the air and of those households, only a third have children”

Notice where he said “and of those”, which is in reference to the 15% of the population that still gets it’s television over the airwaves. That means that, of those 15%, only 1/3, or 5%, OF THAT 15% of the population have kids, not of the American population of a whole. That works out to 5% of 15% of the population. And thus, 0.0075% of the population as a whole.

hometoast says:

Re: I did not get it wrong. - no you did.

Of all households, only 15% still get their TV over the air (the form of distribution regulated by the FCC) and of those households, only a third have children. So it’s based on only 5% of households that the rules are set.

Get a math book.
15% get over-air broadcast, OF THOSE, one-third have children, one third of 15% is still 5%…..
why am I even bothering.

Onikitsune says:

This guy is LOST

Mr. Wright may be CEO of NBC, but he seems to be one living in a vacuum. The FCC is not as clueless as he makes them sound. They know that their idea of a Family hour is out-of-date. That’s why they have tried again and again to gain control of cable and satalitte broadcasts. They want to regulate TV signals 24/7. Their argument is the same as Mr. Wright’s: That Americans are getting their TV from those two sources almost exclusively. They’ve argued that parents don’t understand technology, and can’t use V-Chips. And they’ve added that it’s not just the children who are offended by “boobies”. Their tactics are aggressive, and focused. They are not the paper tiger that Mr. Wright makes them out to be. his piece seems like nothing more than a fluff piece written to make him look like an anti-censorship falg bearer to the 20-30y.o. crowd.

Ron says:

Re: This guy is LOST

Sorry, you are the one living in a vacuum. The FCC has no right to even think about regulating non-broadcast services. The really don’t have a right to regulate broadcast services content. they were chartered strictly to allocate and assign frequencies, not to control content.

Personally, what offends me on TV is the glut of sports shows, and especially ones that can’t even fit in the time assigned to them. Gee, maybe we should fine the networks for that!!!


Any excuse will serve a tyrant. — Aesop

I didn’t steal YOUR sig, I borrowed everyone’s!

John (profile) says:

What's a V-Chip

You know, I’ve seen commercials for this so-called “V-Chip” (and the so-called “ratings”), but I still don’t understand the concept. Why should I, as a parent, have to control what my kid watches when I can simply complain to the government and have the FCC fine the network for showing content that I personally find offensive. Why should I have to turn the channel when I find something offensive? The FCC is there to listen to MY complaints. If I don’t like “Married… With Children”, I should be able to petition the government so nobody should be allowed to watch it.

As for the studies, there have numerous studies from Yale, Harvard, and Princeton that scientificially proved that over a gazillion children were scarred for life after almost seeing Janet Jackson’s bare nipple for less than 1/2 a second during the 2004 Super Bowl. The studies also showed that half a gazillion of those children grew up to be serial killers.

And, yes, the above statements are 100% sarcasm.
The real point is that the “for the children” excuse is simply that: an excuse for a vocal minority to use the government to force their own morals onto others.

Onikitsune says:

This guy is lost

I’ve been mis intrepreted 🙁 my fault.
I did not mean to advocate the FCCs actions. I believe that a healthy society can regulate itself bases on the will of the Majority. the Gov’t has no place dictating morailty. That’s just another form of religious oppression.
FTW on the sports & alotted time, I agree completly.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: This guy is lost

Government censorship a form of religious opression???
Sorry I am soo tired of BS like this

Government is there to maintain order and make sure people aren’t victimized. The idea that the government exists to ensure we can do whatever we want (protect our rights) is obsurd. Government only ensures that individuals don’t oppress each other.
Society…via a government…can and should put limits on people’s individual rights. Morality, cultural norms, etc. all exactly the type of things GOVERNMENT is suppose to protect.

I’m tired of this ‘I should be able to do whatever I want…cause I have rights’ mentality.

Society gives you those rights..and can take them away… we do this via laws, which are enforced via a government.

We have censorship and decency laws in place..the FCC has EVERY RIGHT to enforce them.


Paul G says:

Re: Re: This guy is lost

I’d stay anonymous too. Government should put limits on “morality, cutural norms,etc.”?? Whose cultural norms and morality should be followed? Those of Jerry Falwell & co? “Family Value” folks who don’t like nipples but are all for violence? What about those religions that find women in bathing suits offensive?

The government needs to stay out and parents need to step in.

Go back to your Crystal Cathedral.

John says:

Mr. Wright makes no sense

1.) How can you “accurately” know how many people get their TV over the airwaves? TVs are passive devices..they don’t transmit information back to the Networks
Sample surveys are often times flawed…that’s just reality.
2) What does Wright care.. are people going to stop watching TV just cause people don’t cuss and show sex scenes?
3) More then just kids are offended
4) Psychologically speaking, anytime you tell a kid, “do as I say..not as I do” — it causes cognitive dissonance and problems with their perceptions of reasoning
5) There a lot of studies which show that seeing acts of sex is a gateway to more severe porn addictions

6) FINALLY: I agree with the reader that says “Majority doesn’t rule” — I bet the majority of people would ACTUALLY VOTE for more censorship if it was actually up to the PEOPLE.

Most Americans are in the middle of Right conservatives and Leftist liberals. — So I’m guessing if Americans had a choice.. Mr. Wright would be WRONG.

Not a math expert says:

I think this might help clear things up.

1/3 of 15% is 5% or 33% of the ORIGINAL 15%.

Lets say there are 100 families.

15% of those 100 familes is 15 families.

1/3 or 33% of those 15 famlies is 5 familes

5% of the original 100 familes is 5 familes

So, in this case 33% or 1/3 = 5%

So the FCC is dicatating what the other 95 families are seeing on broadcast TV based on the opinions of 5 familes..

that help?

Jason I. says:

TVs come with off buttons

If you don’t like what’s on TV, or you don’t want your children watching certain programs, turn the TV off! Shockingly, I do not watch programs I don’t like. I don’t let my daughter watch anything I would consider inappropriate.

In the US, the right to not be offended is nowhere in the Constitution. If you find something offensive, either learn to live with it or ignore it.

erk masfield says:

Majority will never run media

Why don’t we run porn on all channels? No one can argue that IS the direction we are going. And you mostly defend the “freedom” of doing so. Freedom as it was conceived in our Declaration and Constitution was based on human decency and Christian behavior. Which basicly is don’t knowingly harm others. Gosh.. isn’t that offensive. I hope EVERYONE is offended by that statement. What we need in this country is a new dictator. That way, those of us who fight for freedom can fight and rest of you human garbage can conform to whatever they tell you is good and free. So stay fat and happy.

Paul G says:

Re: Majority will never run media

Funny – I thought the Constitution protected freedom of religion – didn’t know it created a Christian Theocracy.

Some of us, including the founding fathers, believe freedom means people can worship and believe what they want, not what YOU want. just because you are a devout Christian does not mean the rest of the country has to be.

Hide behind Christianity but the reality is you are a hypocritical bigot.

Onikitsune says:

... now EVERYBODY is lost, heh.

The fine line between regulation and censorship has been crossed by the FCC. The business of censorship should be left to the “stations”. If they broadcast something that people and advetisers do not like they will loose business. PLUS, FCC has mandated V-chips in all TVs after 1994, AND that all broadcasters utilize the system. the tools are in place to effectively control the content at the user level, with out interdicition from a third party, with ONLY a political intrest.

R Paul says:

25 Percent to pass a law!

BTW, it occurred to me that if it only requires 50%+1 of the voters to elect a congress critter, and it takes only 50%+1 of congress critters to pass a law, it takes just slightly over 25% of the voters to pass a law. It takes just slightly over 33% of the voters to override a veto.

Perhaps it should require e.g. 95% of congress-critters to pass a law: after all, if you can’t get 48% of the population to agree that a law is a good idea, why should 100% of them be required to live by it?

Michael Pate (user link) says:

This whole conversation is ridiculous...

Instead of whining about no one watches his third rate programming, Wright out to focus on making better shows. Not that long ago, NBC was number one; now it is reduced to hoping that ER and Law and Order can still somehow retain an audience. Heroes is actually pretty good, but one success out of a dozen new shoes is a pretty pathetic batting average. There are millions of Americans out there who don’t watch network television, not because it isn’t racy enough, but just because the programming (and the network execs who chose it) don’t have a clue.

Grow up says:

Reality please

Oh come on, there is less restriction on what goes over the airwaves today than there ever has been in the history of the United States, so stop hyping the issue.

The laws of this land is not for the good of individuals but for the entire country. You want to watch porn fine, but don’t expect to do it in public. Your rights? Sounds like the same type of idiot that goes to a foodball game and screams slurs and offense language at the top of their lungs.

OK, you think its ok to use offensive behavior, and if others don’t like it, they can ignore it? You walk through Harlem shouting out racial slurs? You approve of that? Its only opinion, its only speech. If you don’t get shot, you probably would get arrested, should that conduct be allowed? You approve of that?

You want to watch porn, rent it or buy cable, it shouldn’t come over the airways. Allow NBC to show it? No way, do you really want more shows with Dennis Franz naked butt?

Majority IS law says:

News flash folks, every law is a form of censorship. It’s not opressive to the majority if it limits the “majority” in a “democracy”. You’re a moron if you think that.

So let me say it slow… you… are… in… the… minority,… not… us.

You may be able to beat me in a debate of the issue, so why debate, because as long as my opinion is law… you lose. Accuse me of flaming if you want, but don’t accuse me of lying. Reality is that the minority must live by the majority’s rules. Even every amendment of the constitution is subject to a majority. It is not set in stone. They are not “Commandments”. If 2/3 of the people rise up and say, “The first amendment is hogwash, let’s censor all speech as we please,” then that’s what we’ll do.

Remember, in a democracy, the law is nothing without the majority. It’s not whether you are right or wrong based on whatever evidence you bring with you, its how many people agree with you. Or, let me translate:

All your law are belong to majority.
The law got pwned by the majority.
In Soviet Russia, the law determines the majority.
I, for one, welcome our democracy overlords.

Baa Baa Black Sheep says:

Meanwhile, in little ol' New Zealand...

…you can see things like brothels advertising to recruit workers on free-to-air TV (albeit, late at night) as well as the usual tits and genitals; what’s more, NZ isn’t even a super-liberal country – not like continental Europe. Does the US have the most draconian cenonsorship of free-to-air media in the Western world? Is anyone worse?

Redmoon says:

Everyone’s right to freedom of speech is protected in our founding documents. Your feelings, however, are not. Kudos to Jason I & Mike. Parents need to regain control of their households and be PARENTS, not friends to their children. If your child uses the “…I’m the only one…” argument then you simply tell them that you are in charge and that’s the way it is. If they go to a friend’s house, you should be very familiar with the friend and his/her parents. This will allow you to regulate via those parents what your child does/ watches. All of this is common sense, of course, which seems to have taken a couple of decades off. We need to stop letting children do whatever they want, whenever they want. Every little child is not special, a princess, a prince, extraordinary, etc. I like what R Paul posted above, “You cannot child-proof the world, you must world-proof your child!,” not the other way around. Discipline your children and they will learn that for every action there must be a consequence. Perhaps then we will reduce the number of juvenile delinquents growing up to become criminals. It doesn’t take religious beliefs to enforce common sense, and common human decency. I’m sorry if I offend anyone with this… Wait, I forgot that I have every right to say what I’ve said. Also, you have every right to post any snide remarks about this posting. Your particular feelings though? Sorry, not protected. Deal with it.

George Myers says:


This of course is part of the right wing conspiracy that put General Colin Powell’s son in charge of the FCC in the 1st GW Bush (2x Clinton’s salary) regime. In the Bronx the Jesuit university (Fordham U. and law school) was stopped from finishing an antenna put up next to its football field (for lack of anywhere else to put it) stopped 2/3 of the way finished because it was 11′ (feet) too close to the “vista” of the Bronx Botanical Gardens, where people go to look at the ground! The FCC I think concurred despite the dedicated public support of WFUV, which has the oldest continuous sports show on radio (Alan Alda was a DJ there too) and Montefiori Hospital has since provided them with roof space, next to the City Park golf course taken over in part for water filtration (though an equal space next to a prison in Westchester could have served).

|3331373|3|_||3 says:

Meanwhile, in little ol' New Zealand...

Well here in Oz we don’t let sheep watch TV, and nor do we want them in Brothels, thanks. Still we have Govt Funded SBS, which has had some boderline stuff on it. Al the senators who complian about BB UpLate should watch SBS late some nights, then they’d know what the govt. should be showing.

Sam Darroch says:

NBC News - Human head blown apart

Just a quick note from an international resident sick and tired of US cencorship policy. Tell me why I can see a decapitated and torn apart human head – yes the remains of the jaw and teeth were detached but still made it inside the frame, shown repeatedly on NBC’s Today show at 8.45am Dec 27th 2007. I do not wish this on myself let alone my wife or my children.. Unfortunately I am a moron because I enjoy 4 letter words and abhore violence especially real, visual and gory brutality. What is wrong with seeing another persons bottom or hearing the word sh*t compared with a torn apart head on public television at 8.45 in the morning? My friends and family in the US and around the world are asking why?

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