A Look At Indecency Complaints To The FCC
from the roller-coaster-ride dept
The FCC refuses to detail its rules for what's "indecent" on TV, even as they've been handing out a lot more fines over the last few years. They claim to do so would be akin to censorship. Instead, they simply respond when people complain, and then determine (afterwards) whether the broadcast was technically indecent. Of course, as has been pointed out in the past, that's a problem when many of the claims of indecency are generated by web-based forms on the sites of certain "family-friendly groups" who urge their followers to complain, even if they haven't seen the video. In some cases, the vast majority of the complaints are from these form letters. Ironically, if the people sending in these complaints have seen the offending video at all, it's often because some of the "family groups" post them to their own websites to stir up the outrage. So, it shouldn't come as much of a surprise to see Matthew Lasar look through the stats on FCC indecency complaints and note that it's quite a roller coaster ride, with periods of time when the FCC gets almost no complaints, to times when suddenly over 100,000 come in. Of course, you could point out that the data alone does not prove that someone's "stuffing" the complaint box, since there probably isn't an equal distribution of content on television that people consider indecent. However, when combined with the other reports that have shown that nearly all, if not all of the complaints are based on the same form letter, it really does make you wonder what the FCC thinks it's doing. Considering that some studies have shown the vast majority of Americans think the FCC has no place censoring TV, it seems like maybe the FCC should focus on more pressing issues. Otherwise, we just get a chilling effect as affiliates refuse to run certain programs just in case groups gang up on them and the FCC declares the video indecent.