The FCC's Obscenity Malfunction

from the arbitrariness-is-no-way-to-govern dept

The FCC has a pretty spotty record when it comes to dealing with indecency charges. Basically, it seems to randomly fine stations if it receives enough complaints, even if most of those complaints come from auto-generated scripts from people who didn’t actually see the content at all. Of course, perhaps the most highly publicized case where the FCC got involved over what it found to be indecent content was the infamous Janet Jackson Super Bowl wardrobe malfunction. However a court has now ruled that, rather than a wardrobe malfunction, the real malfunction was by the FCC, which had changed its obscenity standards arbitrarily and with no explanation whatsoever in doling out fines over the incident. The court points out that the FCC is allowed to change its standards, but with an explanation and not so arbitrarily. In this case, though, it seemed clear that the response was politically motivated — and the court has tossed out the fines.

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Comments on “The FCC's Obscenity Malfunction”

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John (profile) says:

Save the children!

“If a striptease during the Super Bowl in front of 90 million people – including millions of children – doesn’t fit the parameters of broadcast indecency, then what does?” [Tim] Winter [of the watchdog organization Parents Television Council] said.
To answer his question, how about cameras leering over the half-dressed cheerleaders? Or what about beer commercials where a lady gets set on fire by a horse’s fart (to comic effect, she doesn’t get literally burned)?

Or how about all the commercials for “male enhancements” which used metaphors like a guy throwing a football through a tire? Why are ads for “getting it up” and “keeping it up” considered perfectly appropriate for any children than might be watching?

Why is a 9/16th second shot (which no one saw until later, after they paused the show with TIVO) worse than sexist beer commercials?

Right, because Anhesier-Busch and the drug (I mean “pharmaceutical”) companies spend tens-of-millions on commercials during football games.
Janet Jackson didn’t spend millions of dollars purchasing commercial time, so let’s call her act “indecent” and “inappropriate for children”.

Anonymous Coward says:

History again repeats itself

Just take another look, not too long ago, at a Chancellor named Hitler. Read about his law changes for the better of society on his way to becoming the Furher. Indecency laws, free speech laws, gun laws, etc. All for the sake of bettering Germany. Hmmm, almost like holding up a mirror isn’t it? Gotta go bury my guns, non-christian books, and non-approved items. Getting ready for the future.

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