CBS objects to indecency fine

CBS objects to indecency fine from manufactured PTC internet campaign:

CBS was recently hit with a record indecency fine of US$3.3 million, courtesy of the FCC. The fine was handed down for an episode of Without a Trace in which a character has a flashback to the night of a crime. That crime, however, takes place in the middle of an after-school orgy, and therein lies the problem. Though the scene contains no nudity, there’s plenty of skin on display along with some teenage bump and grind action. According to Mediaweek, the show initially drew no negative comments, but when it was aired again a few months later (in late 2004), it caught the attention of the Parents Television Council (motto: “Because Our Children Are Watching”), and the manufactured outrage began.

Whatever you think about the appropriateness of the segment in question, there’s no doubt that the response was “manufactured,” since none of the complainants apparently even saw the show when it was aired. The PTC made a clip of the offending segment and posted it on their own website, inviting their readers to submit a pre-written letter of complaint to the FCC. CBS affiliates are now protesting the fine against them, arguing that all 4,211 e-mailed complaints about the show came from this site and from one run by the American Family Association (which claims that more than 70,000 complaints were submitted; it’s difficult to reconcile these two numbers). The CBS stations argue that such complaints are inappropriate and invalid.

One odd feature of the outrage campaign is that the video clip is actually hosted on the PTC website, where it is accompanied by a fairly graphic textual description of the action. For a group that doesn’t think such material should be seen, it’s a bit ironic for them to be in the business of showing it to people, but I guess it’s hard to get outraged if you haven’t seen the clip.

In case there was any doubt, this should dispel it. These people aren’t upset by what they see on TV. They’re upset by what you and I (adults) might (freely choose to) watch on TV. The objections come from a tiny special interest group that don’t even watch it (but feel free to offer the same content being objected to to their members), and somehow they’re allowed to dictate what may and may not be broadcast on TV.

I can’t help but feel that it was exactly these kind of fuckheads for which the first amendment was written. And to this day I still can’t reconcile that amendment with the censorship powers of the FCC, or indeed any legal notion of “indecency” or “obscenity” at all.

Shit, Piss, Fuck, Cunt, Cocksucker, Motherfucker, and Tits.

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One Response to “CBS objects to indecency fine”

  1. Falstaff Says:

    The PTC only claims 1 million members, yet it games the FCC system to make TV content decisions for Americans in 109 million TV households.

    1 million out of 109 million plus. If that’s democracy in action, I’d hate to live in a totalitarian dictatorship.

    Check out TV Watch, at, for a common sense voice of reason in this debate.

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