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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  • identicon
    uncle bob, 21 Jul 2008 @ 4:15pm

    Hmmm... give me an idea..

    "complaints come from auto-generated scripts"

    I must get me one of these scripts. Think of the fun I could have harassing the McCain campaign with it's references to gooks. Or for that matter, Fox News and the whole Jess "Castration" Jackson controversy.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    LTDLP, 21 Jul 2008 @ 4:46pm

    Not so fast there junior

    Sorry guys, but I hold a patent on such scripting methods.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    John, 21 Jul 2008 @ 4:57pm

    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".

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Jessica Yeats, 21 Jul 2008 @ 6:09pm

    They Needed Public Support

    The FCC just wanted to limit the abilities of "LIVE" TV.

    Remember all the talk about how "Live isn't really live anymore" and how TV was now on a 10-second delay?

    The FCC's agenda was pushed forward and they got what they wanted. A big red button for free speech... on TV.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Jul 2008 @ 9:59pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Jul 2008 @ 7:17am

    indecency is not obscenity is not profanity

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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