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Censorship Government Politics

Lone Activist Group Submits 99.8% of FCC Complaints 1373

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the vocal-minority dept.
andywebz writes "Mediaweek is reporting that complaints to the FCC are rising. Powell spoke before congress, detailing that the complaints are up from 14,000 in 2002, to nearly 240,000 in 2003. There were only 350 complaints during 2000 and 2001. Powell failed to mention however that 99.8% of those complaints came from PTC (Parents Television Council). The article does mention he may have been unaware of this fact. Jonathan Rintels (president of the Center for Creative Voices in Media) commented, 'It means that really a tiny minority with a very focused political agenda is trying to censor American television and radio.'"
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Lone Activist Group Submits 99.8% of FCC Complaints

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  • PTC (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 06, 2004 @07:25PM (#11011988)
    PTC lost a LOT of their political clout after WWE kicked their ass in court [washingtonpost.com] a couple years ago. Other targets should repond the same way.
    • I don't think so. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by killjoe (766577)
      These people just got the president re-elected. They have more power today then they have ever had. Not only does the president agree with them pretty much 100% he is indebted to them for his election.

      Expect the PTC and the rest of the Christian fundemantilist movement to push and get through most of their agenda in the next four years.
      • by tenchiken (22661) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @01:52AM (#11015188)
        Civics lession 101: We live in a contitutional democracy in which people vote. more people voted for Bush in more states representing more of the population of the united states so that george bush did win a 3% margin over his opponent.

        The American people just got Bush elected. Not some group that you want to make a boogyman.
    • settled out of court (Score:3, Informative)

      by kistral (757265)
      Careful now. WWE didn't kick their ass in court, the PTC and WWE settled out of court. There's a difference.
    • Re:PTC (Score:5, Informative)

      by AciDive (543624) on Monday December 06, 2004 @08:19PM (#11012557)
      I think everyone should use the http://www.parentstv.org/ptc/fcc/fcccomplaint2.asp [parentstv.org] Complaint Form on the PTC website to send positive fead back about all of the shows in the PTC worst 10 list to the FCC. If everyone on SlashDot did this we might be able to get the PTC some bad press (it would be bad press as far as they are concerned).
      • Re:PTC (Score:5, Interesting)

        by nick_davison (217681) on Monday December 06, 2004 @08:41PM (#11012774)
        I just sent them:

        Congress were told, recently, that complaints to the FCC are rising dramatically.

        In 2000 and 2001, the FCC only received 350 complains. In 2002, 14,000. In 2003, 240,000. Clearly TV is becoming much more offensive.

        Until you discover that 99.8% of all complaints are from the PTC (Parents Television Council). If you do the math, the 0.2% of complaints that aren't part of a political lobbying body amount to... 480. That's right, an increase of 130 over 2000/2001.

        So, while Congress are wringing their hands over how terrible TV has got, the reality is that it's barely changed at all - but a political lobbying group who want to censor TV is creating a vastly disproportionate impact by effectively spamming the crap out of the FCC.

        The real truth is that there are roughly 1.5 complaints for every MILLION people in the U.S. - i.e. NO major issues with the content of TV. That a tiny minority interest group can so skew the figures as to make it appear that the ration's as high as one in a thousand is, frankly, disgusting. That Congress are being fed their lies, rather than having the truth pointed out, is even worse.

        Though it does beg the question: What would happen if a small group - say a thousand people, sent a letter to the FCC each day complaining that shows didn't go far enough with their nudity, violence and profanity. They'd outnumber the conservative complaints 3:2 for even those small numbers.


        Something appealed about the irony of using their own website to complain about their actions. As they helpfully noted: All five FCC commissioners have been sent a copy of your email.
        • Re:PTC (Score:4, Insightful)

          by cmdrxizor (776632) on Monday December 06, 2004 @09:02PM (#11012968)
          I noticed that the PTC has a "File a Complaint" Link on their web page. Could some/most/all of the complaints filed by the PTC really be from people who just filled out their form rather than find the real thing? Just speculating.
        • by spoco2 (322835) on Monday December 06, 2004 @10:42PM (#11013844)
          It looses a lot of your intended impact due to using phrases such as "by effectively spamming the crap out of the FCC."

          That will get the letter put in the 'loony left' bucket quicker than anything.

          Also, using the phrasing of "Until you discover that 99.8% of all complaints ..." The 'until you discover...' bit sound very amaturish and would be better worded in terms like : "However, if the statistics are investigated further it comes to light that 99.8% of all complaints..."

          Quickly rushing out a poorly worded email does nothing for the cause I'm afraid.
      • Send PTC an email (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Trillian_1138 (221423) <slashdot@fridayth[ ].com ['ang' in gap]> on Monday December 06, 2004 @08:54PM (#11012893)
        I just sent the following email to PTC, from the link on their website:

        "To the Parents Television Council,

        Please go away. Disband, disperse, diffuse, disappear, dissolve, disengage, break up, cease all activities, halt all programs, and leave.

        The recent article in Mediaweek [http://www.mediaweek.com/mediaweek/headlines/arti cle_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1000731656] brought your group to my attention. I would like to take this opportunity to do something you seem to have taken on for yourself: Speak for Americans everywhere. It disgusts me that you would attempt to skew the number of complaints filed with the FCC to further your own views, and to attempt to regulate television as you see fit.

        Your spokeswoman Lara Mahaney asked, "Why does it matter how the complaints come?" I sincerely hope she was not the best you could do for your public image, because that would indicate your group is not only misguided, but headed by fools. It matters because the complaints filed with the FCC are supposed to represent all Americans, and what they consider indecent. It is not your responsibility to speak for those of us who are satisfied with television the way it is. Even were we not satisfied, we did not ask you to speak for us, and would prefer you stayed silent.

        I find the entire premise of your group offensive. No child is required to watch television. On the contrary, children only watch television with the permission of their parents. Indeed, no parent is even required to own a television. The argument that parents cannot monitor their children, and so America "needs" you to do so for them, is ridiculous. When I was a child my parents regulated the shows I watched, the movies I went to, the amount of computer use I was allowed, the videogames I played, and helped me to foster a sense of *self* regulation. I am a fine, upstanding citizen today because instead of relying on groups like yours my parents did their job: They parented me.

        Go away. You are not wanted here.

        -Jared Kling"
    • Re:PTC (Score:5, Funny)

      by AnotherFreakboy (730662) on Monday December 06, 2004 @08:21PM (#11012574)
      If anyone is looking to kick the PTCs arse (I'm Australian) in court, they could try to get something out of (from the article):
      tools developed by the PTC, including continual monitoring and
      archiving of broadcast network programs
      I have a feeling that archiving of broadcast television is against a whole bunch of laws, though my knowledge of American Law is nothing to speak up about.
    • by Bender Unit 22 (216955) on Monday December 06, 2004 @08:36PM (#11012727) Journal
      As an outsider who has only visited the US a couple of times, it always seemed to me that the attitude, opinion, rules, what you can and can't do on tv, did not reflect the people I talked to.
      I mean, if someone said or did something on TV, the reaction would be "they can do that on TV?", rather than being truly offended. It seemed to me that the rules and culture on TV and what was acceptable or normal, were very different from the real world.
  • by Corf (145778) on Monday December 06, 2004 @07:26PM (#11011995) Journal
    Alright, I'm going to write a letter to the FCC demanding that they keep doing things just the way they have been, smut-filled and all. Who's with me?!
    • by Malc (1751) on Monday December 06, 2004 @07:37PM (#11012121)
      Smut filled? Where have you been watching TV? TV in the US is far too prudish already for anything like that! Have you not watched TV in other countries?
      • by Total_Wimp (564548) on Monday December 06, 2004 @08:19PM (#11012556)
        The most amazing part is what we choose to censor. South Park shows a hamster being insterted into and traveling through a man's colon but bleeps the word "fuck". I don't fucking get it. We are prudes and nasty fuckers all in the same show.

        Selective censorship never works. Bleeping a cuss word doesn't stop everyone from understanding it's a cuss word and, because of the nasty context, does nothing to protect children or anyone else. You can remove every "motherfucker" you want from Rap music and it's still talking about fucking hos and doing drugs.

        I don't know the answer, but I'm growing fatigued of all the shows and songs that punch holes in the dialog, yet still leave you feeling violated. We're not only protecting no one, but we're treating adults like children in the process. Though I'm not asking for it in this case, I sure wish a government who claims to be trying to protect me would actually try to protect me... or butt the fuck out.

        TW
        • by Jackie_Chan_Fan (730745) on Monday December 06, 2004 @11:31PM (#11014210)

          The most amazing part is what we choose to censor. South Park shows a hamster being insterted into and traveling through a man's colon but bleeps the word "fuck". I don't fucking get it. We are prudes and nasty fuckers all in the same show.

          Well that pretty much sums up our American Hypocrisy... Even the Christian Fundementalist hypocrisy...

          As adults we're very prudish publically, but in private we're peeing on each other, sticking things in our asses, eating our own shit, dressing up in cheerleader outfits for our husbands, dancing erotically, whipping each other, covering our sexual organs with whipcream and other food items, screwing in the kitchen, finger banging in cars, getting our dick sucked on the freeway, mutual masturbation, fucking chickens and other various animals, orgies, cheating on our loved ones, we're jacking off to budwiser commercials and underwear advertisements in the sunday papers, we're spanking each other, peircing our tongues for pleasure, buying huge amounts of porn, using vibrators and vegatables as dildos, preforming mock rape scenarios, getting sex changes, wearing diapers, pretending we're teenagers again, dressing up as the opposite sex while being tickled to death by a dominating opposite sex partner, jacking off to just about anything, fucking each other in the ass hard, oral sex all over the place, and drinking piss and eating our own, or others shit. ( i think i mentioned the shit thing already ;) but i like it so hey it gets the point accross... got a problem with it, tell Jim Norton.)

          You name it, Adults are doing it. The list goes on and on.

          And the funny part is... We were once the children of this country. Lets see... EVERYONE as a teenager has tried to get beer underage, EVERYONE as a teenager wanted to get laid and some of us were lucky enough to succeed at that... (not speaking for myself of course)

          EVERYONE as a teenager tried their damnest to be adult like... why? because we were growing up. Thats what kids do.

          Cant drink legally, but you get go to war and murder people in foreign lands!

          Oh the Hypocrisy of humanity... Especially the christian fundementalist movement... the same organized folks that preach their morallity... are fucking our young children behind our backs. And i'm not just speaking in that "gurgling alterboy cum" and a wink wink and a tussle "good lad" kind of sense... I'm talking about brain fucking as well.

          You tell me who is more moral...

          I'll tell you who is winning... THEM. The kid touchers, the god hates fags people, the anti abortion wackos, the god is coming back to earth and we all better be christian wackos...

          The fairytale beleivers who are affraid of their own penis... and or vagina :)

          Those people are winning... Becuase they're making everyone feel ashamed for what we all do in private.... which is fucking like rabbits.

          Who's children are we protecting? It sounds like we're trying to protect ourselves from ourselves and dumping a mind fucked guilt trip on the kids... who are only doing the very same thing you did... which i will remind you of... Get beer while underage, fuck each other, dream of getting laid etc

          Life is pretty simple when you boil it down. Eat shit, Sleep, Fuck and by nature we do care about each other as a civilization (we dont need religion for that... our caring for each other is natural.. we're pack animals).

          Its when those who tell you how to live, that things get complicated.

          Joe Rogan said it best...

          "I saw a documentary on the brilliant cosmologist Stephen Hawking, where he said he had a meeting with the pope, and that the pope said to him that it's all right to explore the universe, but told him not to look into the origins of the big bang, for that would be questioning God's story of creation.

          Wow.

          Just imagine that... one of the greatest minds to come along in the last few hundred years, and he's tak

    • by captnitro (160231) on Monday December 06, 2004 @07:47PM (#11012219)
      Even better.

      My fellow Slashdotters:

      I found pr0n and prototype schematics for a $25 Linux-based Xbox while surfing the inter-net! Find it here! [parentstv.org].


      Damage done.
    • by speakspeak (837867) on Monday December 06, 2004 @07:59PM (#11012352) Homepage
      STOP THE PRESSES!! We're on our way, promise. We are SpeakSpeak (and so are you!). SpeakSpeak.org will be functional by early January. From SpeakSpeak's site, you will be able to generate a personalized letter to FCC board members, advertisers, and your own personal political representatives thanking them for protecting free speech and for standing up to religious fringe groups. Like I said, the site will be fully up by January, barring disasters. By the end of this week, you will be able to sign up for 100%-ironclad-never-sold-or-shared email updates at speakspeak.org. Hey, maybe I'll even get that done tonight....
  • by Kjuib (584451) on Monday December 06, 2004 @07:26PM (#11011997) Homepage Journal
    This small group of complainers can then easily be taken out by a small group of assassins... There must be a reason this has not been done yet, but I cannot think of any.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 06, 2004 @07:29PM (#11012029)
      here is [parentstv.org] their website, go forth slashdot ninjas and conquer.

      • by FatalTourist (633757) on Monday December 06, 2004 @07:59PM (#11012350) Homepage
        From their site.
        10 'Best' Shows

        ...
        5. 7th Heaven
        7th Heaven? 7TH HEAVEN?? If you want to experience true murderous rage, please watch this show.
        • by liquidpele (663430) on Monday December 06, 2004 @08:09PM (#11012449) Journal
          Oh, the christian viewpoints are obvious in their choices for those shows.
          1) Most of the shows in the "worst" category have gays and lezbians.
          2) Good Chrisian shows (7th heavin in all it's flaming shit) get good ratings.
          3) Shows like Southpark are not mentioned. Why? Probably because they realize southpark would make a show about them and tear their organization to shreds in the minds of most teenagers, so they ignore it.
          • by Teancom (13486) <david.gnuconsulting@com> on Monday December 06, 2004 @08:41PM (#11012777) Homepage
            Actually, though I don't watch most of those shows (on either list :-), after scanning through it it *seems* that the only show on the "bad" list with gay characters was Will and Grace. And Southpark wasn't mentioned because it's not on network television. All of the shows they list are. If they went to cable, they would have put the Sopranos on the list, for sure.

            Note, I'm not disputing the extreme christian slant of their list, just not for two out of the three reasons you mentioned :-)
        • by Thuktun (221615) on Monday December 06, 2004 @08:55PM (#11012899) Homepage Journal
          7th Heaven? 7TH HEAVEN?? If you want to experience true murderous rage, please watch this show.

          (cue slightly-related Family Guy bit)

          ANNOUNCER: We now return to 'Touched By An Angel'.
          LAWYER: Now Billy, show us exactly where the Angel touched you.
          BILLY: Umm...here?
          (BILLY POINTS TO THE DOLL'S CROTCH)
          ANGEL: Oh, come on! Who you going to believe?! I got a freakin' halo for God's sake!
        • by frank_adrian314159 (469671) on Monday December 06, 2004 @09:00PM (#11012950) Homepage
          10 'Best' Shows

          Well, I'm tuning back to see when they drop their #1 show, Joan of Arcadia. You see, the other week, one of the characters who plays God (who occasionally also appears in the form of a *gasp* woman on the show, as well) had the temerity to say that He (i.e., God) had so many religions because people had so many way's of relating to Him, acknowledging Hinduism as an example. I'm sure that goes over well with the thumpers that put that show as numero uno on their list! Like I said, I'm anxious to see what they have to say when they next revise the list, because I'm pretty sure neither polythism nor spiritual eclecticism is high on their list of core values.

    • Re:Small group... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by killjoe (766577)
      It's funny but tragic at the same time. With the christian fundamentalists controlling the white house, senate, house and the supreme court there might not be another way.
    • Re:Small group... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Yorrike (322502)
      Think that's a small group? Urban legend here in New Zealand says that 75% of the complaints recieved by the Broadcasting Standards Authority come from the same three people.

      See, back when I was working on an internet helpdesk, if people kept ringing over and over and over with the same complaints and problems, we were instructed to stop helping them. These three people waste everyone else's money, so why not apply the same policy? Here and in the US.

      And in regard to ninjas, - this guy knows about them [boingboing.net].

  • by LostCluster (625375) * on Monday December 06, 2004 @07:26PM (#11011998)
    I, for one, welcome our new PTC overlords.

    What the PTC has figured out is that indecent TV and radio was being allowed simply because the FCC only takes action when it gets a complaint from somebody in the public. No complaint, nobody was harmed so no foul.

    The FCC is still in control over what is indecent, so the PTC's power is merely that of spotter. If they complain about something that isn't over the line nothing will happen. Of course, a big problem with the current system is that the FCC doesn't have a written down definition of what they consider to be indecent so broadcasters are flying blind when it comes to deciding what to air before they actually do it. What they've gotten away with in the past is no help because they've been allow to get away with far too much.

    The megacompanies need to realize that they should use their cable outlets for the borderline content they have, because the over-the-air channels are regulated.
    • by eln (21727) on Monday December 06, 2004 @07:31PM (#11012055) Homepage
      The FCC defines indecency by saying that anything the general public would regard as indecent, is indecent. Therefore, if the FCC sees 10 million complaints about one particular thing, they must assume that that the general public sees that one thing as indecent, because such a large segment of the general public is complaining about it.

      This sort of activism skews the standards the FCC uses to judge content, and makes the general public appear much more prudish, to the FCC, than they really are.
    • by antifoidulus (807088) on Monday December 06, 2004 @07:32PM (#11012066) Homepage Journal
      But the problem is they don't HAVE to get the FCC to do anything in order to be successful. If they complain to the FCC enough, a company may just voluntarily pull content because it wants to avoid another Howard Stern-esque debacle(in terms of both the fine and the PR problems). The squeaky wheel gets the grease it seems.....
  • F the FCC... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DraKKon (7117) * on Monday December 06, 2004 @07:27PM (#11012007) Journal
    It would be nice for the FCC to define what is indecent..

    It really blows that 100 people can RUIN what millions watch...
    • Re:F the FCC... (Score:5, Informative)

      by updog (608318) on Monday December 06, 2004 @07:57PM (#11012339) Homepage
      It would be nice for the FCC to define what is indecent..

      They have [parentstv.org]:

      Information about Broadcast Obscenity/Indecency Laws:

      The Courts have said that obscene material is not protected by the First Amendment and cannot be broadcast at any time. To be considered obscene, material must meet a 3-prong test:


      1. An average person, applying contemporary community standards, must find that the material, as a whole, appeals to the prurient (arousing lustful feelings) interest;
      2. The material must depict or describe, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by applicable law; and
      3. The material, taken as a whole, must lack serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.

      Indecency is defined as language or material that, in context, describes or depicts, in terms patently offensive as measured by contemporary community broadcast standards for the broadcast medium, sexual or excretory organs or activities. Indecent programming contains patently offensive sexual or excretory references that do not rise to the level of obscenity. As such, the courts have held that indecent material is protected by the First Amendment and cannot be banned entirely. It may, however, be restricted in order to avoid its broadcast during times of the day when there is a reasonable risk that children may be in the audience. As such, broadcasts -- both on television and radio -- that fit within the indecency definition and that are aired between 6:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. are subject to indecency enforcement action.

  • by yorkpaddy (830859) on Monday December 06, 2004 @07:27PM (#11012008)
    I know that Stern pushed for his listeners to complain about Oprah Winfrey (?). Oprah got away with saying things about vaginas and sexual practices that Stern was fined for
  • 240,000? (Score:5, Funny)

    by techsoldaten (309296) * on Monday December 06, 2004 @07:27PM (#11012009) Journal
    You mean all I have to do is write 240,000 complaints to the FCC and I can control what goes on television and radio? I can write a script to do that in about an hour.

    Producers of the biased, left-wing Today show - fear me.

    M
    • Re:240,000? (Score:5, Funny)

      by DarkHelmet (120004) * <mark@@@seventhcycle...net> on Monday December 06, 2004 @07:44PM (#11012197) Homepage
      Yeah, if it's anything like some of the spam I get via scripting:

      # # #

      Dear FCC,

      I have been watching the program #program# recently, only to find that the show's contents have been inappropriate. The program constantly details #smut in a way that is harmful to potential children watching.

      Here are some instances of #smut this show has demonstrated:

      • #item1#
      • #item2#
      • #item3#

      As a parent, I am offended for this much #smut# being present on this program. Will someone please think of the children.

      Thank you.

      Click here to unsubscribe.

      lentils chewables goto kerry fire hire boredom apathy happy

    • Denial of "Service" (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Fzz (153115) on Monday December 06, 2004 @08:01PM (#11012373)
      You're pretty much right.

      If the FCC is getting hundreds of thousands of complaints, then there's no way for them to actually investigate these complains. So probably all they can do is count them.

      What this means is that any organization that can muster large numbers of complaints about random programs they don't like can cause the system to collapse completely. There'd be no effective way for the FCC to use the complaint system as an alert mechanism.

      The only problem with this is that the slashdot crowd aren't nearly as good at organizing as the PTC. So the question is whether we can write python scripts with output that is not detectably different than the PTC's form letters?

  • by AEton (654737) on Monday December 06, 2004 @07:27PM (#11012011)
    a link [parentstv.org] to the eponymous Parents Television Council. (Click several times! It's fun!)

    I love their motto - "because our children are watching". Paternalism at its finest - television viewers must be treated as children!

    (Luckily we can't air, for instance, photographs of caskets of US troops - but that's because voters, not children, are watching.)

    I certainly hope these nice fellows will submit an FCC complaint if any television network tries to air "The Passion of the Christ". So much sadomasochism! So little time!
  • by Talrias (705583) <chris@starg[ ]e.org ['lad' in gap]> on Monday December 06, 2004 @07:27PM (#11012017) Homepage
    I don't see the problem with censoring your own TV for your family, but censoring everyone else's just because you don't like what is on it? Is that acceptable?

    Chris
    • by techno-vampire (666512) on Monday December 06, 2004 @07:42PM (#11012172) Homepage
      To a prude, if it's not acceptable for you to watch, then it's not acceptable for anybody else to watch either. They're not saying, "I watched this and found it objectionable," they're saying, "I find it objectionable that other people are able to watch this." They're main goal is to stop other people from doing things they wouldn't do themselves.
  • by ravenspear (756059) on Monday December 06, 2004 @07:28PM (#11012023)
    Why do you think interest groups are engaging in these kinds of actions?

    Because other "interest groups" have recently proven that politicians will usually bow to your wishes if you bitch loud enough.
  • Stupid parents... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by excaliber19 (750206) on Monday December 06, 2004 @07:29PM (#11012028)
    Why not just grow a spine and keep your brat kids from watching inappropriate material?
    • by Snover (469130) on Monday December 06, 2004 @07:41PM (#11012148) Homepage
      I have a better idea.
      How about the parents watch the "inappropriate" material WITH their children and explain it to them during/afterward?
      Oh, sorry, that would be real parenting. We don't want any of that. (Though actually, I'm not so sure that having children find out about things such as sex independently from their extremist religious parents is such a bad thing -- it's rather sad that so many people think that it is somehow immoral.)
  • by Brigadier (12956) on Monday December 06, 2004 @07:29PM (#11012031)


    How many other people here get the feeling that powell is not qualified for his position. Of all the times I have heard this man talk he has never been able to give a sufficient answer to the true nature of the problem with cencorship. I dont know about you but before I address congress I woudl make it my busines to know everything about the statistics I am about to present. Think about it. you have a exponential growth in complaints aren't you even curious about what group be it age range geographic area, etc that this is coming from. Especially with the US culture being as diverse as it is. I just can't help but think he is totally inept every time I see him.
    • by RealAlaskan (576404) on Monday December 06, 2004 @08:51PM (#11012863) Homepage Journal
      How many other people here get the feeling that powell is not qualified for his position.

      The guy's a political appointee (appointed by Clinton, initially, too). I'd say that he's there because somebody who likes him has political pull. That makes him perfectly qualified for this position, since that's the only qualification for these political appointee jobs.

      He's taking an interest, and he's trying to get the bureaucracy to do what he thinks is right. That kind of tilting at windmills takes courage. It's more than a lot of political appointees do. M. Powell has been taking the technocrats' advice at least part of the time; in particular, I'm thinking about some of the bandwidth auctions, which were highly recommended by some economists. I'd say that he's not just mindlessly following a party line, neither the line of the Democrats who first put him there, nor the line of the Republicans who put him in nominal charge.

      If you don't like what he's doing, well, that doesn't make him wrong, just as your approval wouldn't make him right.

  • Easy (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Datasage (214357) * <Datasage@theworl ... com minus author> on Monday December 06, 2004 @07:30PM (#11012038) Homepage Journal
    If there is something that you are offended by on TV, no one is making you watch it. If your concerned about your kids watching something you dont want them to, just rememeber who is the parent. I sure hope your not expecting the FCC to take care of your kids.

    Market forces will dictate what programming exists on television. If people want to watch content with sex, then yes you will have that on TV. If you dont like that, start your own station.
  • so sad. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by smcavoy (114157) on Monday December 06, 2004 @07:31PM (#11012048)
    especially when you consider in Canada they broadcast (i.e. no cable needed) the sopranos (at 11pm). Heck even CityTv broadcasts softcore porn after 12.
  • by mordors9 (665662) on Monday December 06, 2004 @07:32PM (#11012058)
    They ought to charge them the administrative costs for investigating and processing each of these claims if they are found to be baseless. That should slow them down a bit.
  • by Facekhan (445017) on Monday December 06, 2004 @07:36PM (#11012109)
    I read that in one of the more famous recent indicidents where the FCC issued a big fine. I can't remember if it was the guy who said "fuck" at that award show or not. There were only 3 unique complaint letters out of tens of thousands. All but 2 were form letters from this group.

    I think someone should start a form letter accusing Fox News of saying a bad word like "liberal" and we will just flood them with complaints till they get run out of business.
  • Keep in Mind (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Greyfox (87712) on Monday December 06, 2004 @07:38PM (#11012127) Homepage Journal
    A small-but-vocal minority got prohibition passed, too. This is nothing new.

    If you don't want some vocal group imposing its religious values on you, I suppose you'll have to be just as vocal. Of course, prohibition was quite profitable for a lot of Americans...

  • The New FCC (Score:5, Funny)

    by halcyon1234 (834388) <halcyon1234@hotmail.com> on Monday December 06, 2004 @07:39PM (#11012134) Journal
    Dear Sir/Madam

    This letter is in regard to your recent complaint to the FCC regarding whatever show you think your child should not be watching.

    We would like to inform you, in response to your concern, a device will be installed in all television sets that will allow you to control the content. It is called the OFF button.

    We would like to mention that this device has been shipping standard with all television sets since the beginning of TV. We apologize if this was not obvious enough for you.

    If you should have any other concerns or complaints then, seriously, fuck you. Use the button.

    Sincerely,
    The FCC

  • by yelvington (8169) on Monday December 06, 2004 @07:40PM (#11012141) Homepage
    Credit for this story ultimately should go to blogger Jeff Jarvis. [buzzmachine.com] Jarvis is a longtime journalist, former TV critic, and currently head of the internet division of a major U.S. media company. He filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the FCC's data and followed it up with a searing analysis [buzzmachine.com].

    Jarvis is a professional, but anyone can do this. Dig in and report. Many hands make for light work, and all that.
  • Children (Score:5, Funny)

    by Renraku (518261) on Monday December 06, 2004 @07:40PM (#11012144) Homepage
    For the children.

    Go on, say it.

    For the children.

    Anything you want changed, just claim that its for the children. There's a big percentage of adults in this country that have kids. Most of these people are die-hard parents.

    Their own children can do no wrong, are perfect angels, etc. Its easy to see where you could get something changed if you said for the children, because if you didn't approve, you're automatically against the children.

    We all know that anyone against children is a terrorist. Are you a terrorist?

    That's the same kind of shit these people pull.
    • Re:Children (Score:5, Insightful)

      by taustin (171655) on Monday December 06, 2004 @07:52PM (#11012271) Homepage Journal
      Indeed. I think we should all send complaints to the FCC that there's not enough profanity, violence and sexual content on television. If we encourage more and more offensive content on television, especially in the after-school hours, eventually, more and more parents will simply get rid of the television, forcing their children to get off their (grossly obeses) asses and go outside and socialize with other children, or maybe even, gasp, read. Imagine a world where children are active in their play, well socialized with other children, and read regularly.

      So, in the end, more sex and violence is definitely for the children.

      Be amusing if the FCC got a few hundred thousand letters telling them that.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 06, 2004 @07:52PM (#11012281)
      Hmmm..

      Mod me up... for the children.

      (Is it working yet? Is this thing on?)
    • Re:Children (Score:5, Funny)

      by DogDude (805747) on Monday December 06, 2004 @07:56PM (#11012322) Homepage
      I feel that it should be legal for me to snort coke off a hooker's ass while driving a stolen Humvee at 80 mph through a church parking lot. For the children.
  • by avronius (689343) on Monday December 06, 2004 @07:41PM (#11012147) Homepage Journal
    Rather than allowing you to retain responsibility for your own viewing habits, these people are slowly making the decisions for you.

    To the PTC I say:
    "If something offends, change the channel.
    "If it is unsuitable for your children, change the channel.
    "If you think that it might offend me, it is not your right to infringe upon mine."

    The decision to watch or not watch should be left up to the audience, not determined by a 'morally questionable' group, and filtered for the safety of an unintended audience.

    By morally questionable, I am not suggesting that there is anything wrong with the PTC or it's members. However, having never met them, I cannot vouch for their ability to judge what should or should not be censored. Anyone who stands before me to tell me what my choices are allowed to be is questionable in this fashion.

  • by That's Unpossible! (722232) * on Monday December 06, 2004 @07:41PM (#11012160)
    Hear me out.

    I think what the FCC is doing to "censor" TV/radio is completely un-American.

    (I put "censor" in quotes because they don't actually stop broadcasts from going out, they simply fine you if they later deem it was offensive -- a subtle difference, but a difference.)

    But read this quote from the person at PTC:

    Mahaney said the issue should not be the source of complaints, but whether programming violates federal law prohibiting the broadcast of indecent matter when children are likely to be watching. "Why does it matter how the complaints come?" Mahaney said. "If the networks haven't done anything illegal, if they haven't done anything indecent, why do they care what we say?"


    She has a great point. The problem is not that PTC has sent in a billion complaints, but that the FCC exists and is actually in charge of fining companies who dare to broadcast things people tune in to.

    Personally, I think the FCC should be inundated with bogus complaints. When they aired Saving Private Ryan recently, unedited, I was real tempted to send in a complaint about the movie just because I think the whole thing is ridiculous.

    It is one thing if ABC says, we're going to show you Monday Night Football, and opens with an intro that might not be suitable for children, or CBS airs a half-time show that features an "accidental" nudie show to a wide audience, but other than that, as long as the networks are correctly classifying their broadcasts, I think they should air whatever people want to watch.
  • by King_TJ (85913) on Monday December 06, 2004 @07:43PM (#11012182) Journal
    I was just discussing the whole "censorship of mass media" issue with a co-worker yesterday.

    I feel like we're witnessing a rebellion of sorts, where TV show hosts and producers, musicians, artists, and the like are all making concerted efforts to push the boundaries of what's "decent" in broadcasting.

    Whether or not this prompts niche groups with agendas to file thousands of complaints, it sends out a signal that producers of media are tired of trying to comply with FCC regulations that haven't changed with the times.

    For starters, I think the current generation, as a whole, is simply not as offended by or adverse to swearing/curse words. Many of us in the "20-something and 30-something" age groups and below have decided that "words are just words" and curse words are only as "bad" as the attention we choose to artifically draw to them.

    Last time I listened to a modern rock music station, for example, I was surprised to hear words edited out of at least 5 songs within an hour or two's time. In at least 3 or 4 of these cases, I had never even noticed the singer was singing a "curse word" before, except they made it obvious by chopping it out of the middle of the music.

    When your listening audience is perfectly fine with a singer saying the "F word" in the middle of a song, then why should the FCC prohibit it on the radio? As always, those who don't care for it can change the station or simply listen to their own music, instead of what's served up on the radio.

    I'm of the opinion that federal regulation of the media is basically unnecessary and "un-American" when you get right down to it. The people who want "clean TV" for their kids or for themselves are a large demographic, so the free market will cater to them either way. (Why do you think we have 2 Disney Channels on cable/satellite, Nickelodeon and "Nick for Kids", etc. etc.?) If the local stations keep airing things that offend big segments of their viewers, they're the ones who will lose advertising revenue eventually....

    But since my rather Libertarian views are in the vast minority, I'm sure we're going to be stuck with the FCC dictating what we can/can't see on TV or hear on the radio during certain hours... That's why I'd still say, ok - fine them for obvious stunts like the Janet Jackson/Superbowl fiasco. (That sort of thing is done knowing full-well there will be punishment for it later... But sometimes people just want the "negative publicity" enough to do it anyway.) But at the very least, reconsider the "1950-esque" standards for "decency" on the radio.
  • For what it's worth (Score:5, Informative)

    by prakslash (681585) on Monday December 06, 2004 @07:53PM (#11012288)
    I actually donated money to the PTC.

    I am all for showing sex and violence on TV but not when it is deviously smuggled inside shows billed "family entertainment".

    And.. to those who say "change the channel", I have tried that as well. The sad fact is that there are hardly any alternatives because almost EVERY show is doing it. There are not many intellectually stimulating shows to watch - unless you want to watch PBS all the time.

    I, for one, am glad that there is atleast someone holding the purveyors of dreck accountable - even if they go overboard sometimes.

    • by almostmanda (774265) on Monday December 06, 2004 @08:13PM (#11012487)
      When a show airs, explicit ratings show up in the corner that tell you the intended audience and objectionable content. This makes shows being billed as "family entertainment" when they have objectinable material a non-issue; you are made totally aware of what is included. You do not merely have to "change the channel." Turn off the television entirely. Watch a movie with your children, or go for a walk.

      You are addressing two separate issues here. You take issue with shows being full of objectionable content, and the lack of "intellectually stimulating" shows on television. These issues do NOT go hand-in-hand. Shows like 7th Heaven, which are wholesome and do not contain objectionable content, can be (and often are) poorly written, with unrealistic characters and repetitive plots. Likewise, many people find shows with objectionable content, such as CSI, to be intellectually stimulating. While I understand that some shows on the Fox channel are absolutely mindless AND cross decency lines, it's incorrect to lump the two together and claim the PTC is supporting "intellectually stimulating" programming.

    • by Xyde (415798) <slashdot@purr[ ]net ['rr.' in gap]> on Monday December 06, 2004 @09:39PM (#11013280)
      Please, have you read some of their complaints?

      Charmed

      "The show's sexual content mainly consists of sexual innuendo and implied intercourse (much of it non-marital)." - "Women witches and demons in the show often wear scant clothing, resulting in an unsettling mixture of sex and violence." - "ass" is common, as are "suck" and "bitch," and euphemisms for "f--k."

      Or, I had a laugh at some comments for Everybody Loves Raymond: "Language on this series, used to be harsh, but since the first of 2004, has dropped to a record low number of just 8 uses of mild "hell," "crap," and "damn" in 6 episodes. Sexual references have been non-existent since January 2004."

      Reading through other show "reviews", it sounds like these people have problems with entire plot, not so much the content. How do you make a Sex in the City that's acceptable to them, or a CSI without any graphic scenes? They also mentioned they have a problem with the occult theme in Charmed, but I can assure you they would have no issue with the Christian theme in 7th Heaven (technically both are just a religion, and probably just as offensive to members of the opposing group.

  • by mtb_ogre (698802) <theogreNO@SPAMogrehut.net> on Monday December 06, 2004 @07:56PM (#11012314) Homepage

    'It means that really a tiny minority with a very focused political agenda is trying to censor American television and radio.'

    What's not clear is exactally what effect these complaints are having, and what are they complaining about. First of all, have these complaints actually affected what gets aired in any significant way?

    Do I care if...

    • Janet Jackson's boob is censored? No
    • Howard Stern can't talk about a woman having sex with a dog on the radio? No
    • People can't dry f* on shows which are marketed as family entertainment? No
    • People can't criticise the Bush administration for repeated mistakes in Iraq? Yes
    • People can't call policians to the table for spending our kids future away? Hell Yes

    Perhaps before we start bitching about censorship we start thinking a bit about what censorship is. People seem to think that eliminating Swearing and Sex on the radio is some sort of terrible crime but it is really meaningless. When you look at the bigger issues.

    -- Dennis
  • by Java Ape (528857) <mike.briggsNO@SPAM360.net> on Monday December 06, 2004 @08:30PM (#11012654) Homepage
    I'm a parent of three children. No, really, a parent, not just a sperm-donor or an unlucky paternal unit paying for a youthful fling. Guess whose job it is to insure that my little darlings choose appropriate viewing material? MINE. It's my job to know where they're at. It's my job to know who their friends are. It my responsibility to insure that their reading material and leisure activities don't teach them values I find objectionable. These are my responsibilites, and I guard them with a vengence.

    For the record, I am a moral conservative, and a strongly religious man. However, I RESENT that other groups are trying to do my job. I don't need somone to censor the internet and filter my TV for me. How can I teach my children the importance of making choices if the choices are already made? If all that's available is G-rated pablum, where is the victory of a choice well made? Life is about choices, and I would like to able to use the low-risk, limited consequence items like TV, internet and music to teach good decision-making skills.

    I'm also trying to teach my children something about personal responsibility, moral courage, and tolerance for others. Religious nuts throughout history have tried to enforce their particular morals on the remainder of humanity, usually with tragic consequences. I would like my children to realize that, while we don't want sexually-explicit shows, we don't have any moral imperitive to force others to conform to our standards.

    So, for the children, please quit doing my job. Fill the airwaves with every variety of material, leave the internet alone. I will teach my children, and if I will teach them to choose the good, and ignore that which does not enlighten. I am, after all, a parent.

  • by biggyfries (622846) on Monday December 06, 2004 @08:36PM (#11012730)
    i am seriously sick of this shit. I know i will lose mod points, but that's fine.

    When will the American public wake up and realize that they have a choice? You have a choice in everything you do: wake up, go to work, eat, listen to whatever music you want to, and in regard to this article, you can watch whatever you want to.

    Along the same lines, you have the choice of controlling the TV. But please understand this: There are Family channels, religious channels, porn channels, movie channels, music channels, news channels, food channels, etc, etc, etc. for all the people out there in the whole wide world. But, *you* have the choice of watching these channels. If you dont like what is on, then please change it, because someone somewhere might like it. I myself would rather have my children watch smut than violence.

    Along with this, this means that you will have to actually pay attention to what your family and/or children are watching. If you dont agree with something or dont like a show, then please change the channel.

    I am not pro- or anti-smut/violence/profanity/religion; i am pro-choice. take that away, and you take away Freedom.

    I am done. :) Please flame away.

  • by xant (99438) on Monday December 06, 2004 @08:51PM (#11012860) Homepage
    Censorship is telling a man he can't have a steak just because a baby can't chew it. -Mark Twain
  • by NitroWolf (72977) on Monday December 06, 2004 @10:09PM (#11013583)
    I sent this letter to the parentstv.org email address. Maybe send them similar letters?

    Hello,

    I'm not sure who I might be addressing at editor@parentstv.org, so I apologize for the lack of personalization.

    I am somewhat curious about your organization and why it exists. I realize you probably get all sorts of crank emails, spam, etc... So I expect this email to most likely get ignored.

    I don't like most of what's shown on TV today... I rarely watch TV as a matter of fact. However, I find that trying to prevent other people from doing so is a) futile and b) wrong. I am wondering why your organization thinks it's ok to dictate what other people do in the privacy of thier own homes?

    I understand you are working under a "save the children" banner, and that's fine. But is it not more logical for a parent to parent, as opposed to expecting the government or TV and radio stations to do it for them? Why does your organization feel that it's acceptable to deny programming to people who may find it funny/interesting/worth watching? Why do you feel that your "rights" override other's "rights" to watch what they please?

    As I said, I have no real agenda; I don't watch the TV shows you label as "Bad" nor do I watch the ones you label as "Good." If either or both of them are cancled or taken off the air, I don't really care one whit. What I do care about is your organizations internal justification for censoring programming because parents can't be bothered to actually monitor what their children watch. I have a very real problem with organizations like yours dictating to others what's "right" and what isn't.

    It's time to stop blaming TV, Radio, Newspaper and other media for the poor condition some children find themselves in, and it's time to start looking at the parents. I know it's hard to accept responsibilty for the majority of parents that are part of your organization, but the very real facts of the matter are that any parent that joins your organization is a poor parent and is obviously incapable of taking care of a child in an appropriate manner. They rely on the TV to babysite or educate then children, when that is a job for the parents themselves, not to be shunned off on the anonymous TV screen.

    As I said, of course I do not expect this letter to be given any serious thought by the people of your organization. It's often hard, if not impossible to convince a zealot that they are misguided and doing harm rather than good. It's a very sad state of affairs and a very sad day for the nation when people with misguided political agendas are able to influence freedom of speech and democracy. Shame on your ogranization for further erroding our right to free speech and freedom of expression. Your ogranization is part of the problem, not a part of the solution.

    Thank you for your time,

    XXXXXX
  • by Psionicist (561330) on Monday December 06, 2004 @10:10PM (#11013596)
    Powell failed to mention however that 99.8% of those complaints came from PTC (Parents Television Council).

    MOD PARENTS DOWN!
  • by Linuxathome (242573) on Monday December 06, 2004 @10:37PM (#11013810) Homepage Journal
    The NY Times just recently published [nytimes.com] an article about red America's viewing habits. Surprisingly, the States that voted conservative in the last election are the same States where the highest viewing population for "CSI" and "Desperate Housewives" arise. You should read the article before NY Times starts charging for it. What does that say about America's viewing habits? "Do what I say, not what I do?"

    Lastly, all this attention on the PTC [parentstv.org] should not divert attention away from the thoughtless actions of the American Family Association [afa.net], who according to an NPR report the night of Veteran's Day, were poised with thousands of people ready to lodge complaints to the FCC about stations that were going to air "Saving Private Ryan" [google.com] in commemoration of Veteran's Day.

  • by hengist (71116) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @12:43AM (#11014698)
    Looking at their list of best and worst programmes, the group seems to be very selective on which consequences they like shown and which they don't. They like to see the consequences of sex and drug use being shown, but not the consequences of assault and murder.

    If they think that showing the consequences of sex will put people off of having sex, why wouldn't showing the consequences of murder put people off of killing?

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