Remember how broadcasters were apologizing for how raunchy television had become. The trigger was Janet Jackson baring her breast during the Super Bowl half-time show. That resulted in a $500,000 financial fine to Viacom, parent of CBS and MTV, which put on the show. It was the largest fine ever for indecency?until that point. Fox TV has now been fined over $1 million. But now, broadcasters are griping that the effort to clean up TV has gone too far. They are asking the FCC to reverse a finding that a profanity shouted by U2 vocalist Bono during NBC’s Golden Globes telecast last year was indecent. Millions of Americans had watched the show.
Not surprisingly, NBC has asked the FCC to change its decision. But a brief for the NBC position has been submitted by the ACLU, insisting that what Bono did could be construed as accidental, unintentional, isolated or fleeting, and should, therefore, not be considered indecent. And they argue further that the term” profanity” is too “vague” to be able to be defined.
Other groups arguing in favor of NBC include the Fox Entertainment Group, Minnesota Public Radio, People for the American Way, and Margaret Cho, a vulgar comedian who has supported the George Soros-funded MoveOn.org, the group that posted an ad on its website comparing Bush to Hitler. She has said about President Bush: “George Bush is not Hitler. He would be if he [expletive deleted] applied himself.” That’s her idea of humor. Cho is a featured attraction at feminist and homosexual conferences and awards dinners.
The ACLU of southern California honored Cho, hailing her “courage to speak out about the dangerous policies of the Bush administration and your commitment to organizing others to do the same. More than ever before, this country needs activists and artists like you to stand up and let their voices be heard.” But should those voices be protected on television? Robert Peters of Morality in Media hailed the FCC decision to find the NBC Bono broadcast indecent. He said, “The FCC has for decades ignored the expanding stream of gutter language and sex talk and action that pollutes network TV programming. [In the Bono case] the FCC opened its eyes and ears and determined that broadcast TV is no longer above the indecency law.”
Morality in Media says that the public should understand there is a difference between “indecent” and what may be offensive. If the material is not legally “indecent,” your option is to direct your complaints to advertisers, media executives and local affiliates or cable operators.
The new ABC series, Desperate Housewives, may fit the definition of “morally offensive” but not necessarily indecent. From press accounts, we learned that the show features a woman poisoning her husband, a housewife who married a man for his money and another sleeping with the gardener. A Reuters review said the first episode shows that “the most seemingly normal family has a closet of shocking secrets.” It looks like another attempt to mock and destroy the traditional family. But the government can’t and won’t do anything about this. This program should be forced off the air by poor ratings or lack of advertising.