February 16, 2005


House backs stiffer fines for indecency (Genaro C. Armas, February 17, 2005, Boston Globe)

Chafing over a "wardrobe malfunction" and racy radio shock-jock programs, the House overwhelmingly passed a bill yesterday authorizing unprecedented fines for indecency.

Lawmakers sought to hit broadcasters where it hurts -- the pocketbook -- in approving the measure, 389 to 38, rejecting criticism that the penalties would stifle free speech and expression and further homogenize programming. [...]

Opponents said they were concerned that stiffer fines by the Federal Communications Commission would lead to more self-censorship by broadcasters and entertainers unclear about the definition of "indecent."

They cited the example of several ABC affiliates that did not air the World War II drama "Saving Private Ryan" last year because of worries that violence and profanity would lead to fines, even though the movie already had aired on network television.

Representative Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York, said changing the channel is the best way for families to avoid racy programming.

"But the prurient Puritans of this House are not satisfied with free choice and the free market," Nadler said. "Instead, they want the government to decide what is or is not appropriate for the public to watch or listen to."

They're still working on that values message, huh?

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 16, 2005 11:25 PM

Thinking of sex on TV and Jerrold Nadler at the same time -- that's a rough image to get in your head to start out a morning...

Posted by: John at February 17, 2005 8:53 AM

The same tired line to parents: "Just change the channel." Well, I'd like to know ahead of time that there is a need to change the channel, since waiting until it is offensive means the horse has left the stable and is galloping madly down the street.

Yes, I have obligation to be viligant over what my children watch, etc., but society owes me some heads up that they are pushing garbage. Who expected the Superbowl to contain nudity? Or a spin off of "Arthur" to advocate lesbian relations?

Posted by: Buttercup at February 17, 2005 9:31 AM

The free marketplace doesn't extend to the public airwaves. Maybe the idea of public airwaves is an antiquated concept that should be scrapped. But for now it is the commons, and the public has every right to regulate it.

Posted by: Robert Duquette at February 17, 2005 12:45 PM