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Senator: Decency Rules Should Apply to Pay TV, Radio
March 1, 2005 11:03 AM   Subscribe

Senator: Decency Rules Should Apply to Pay TV, Radio. Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Ted Stevens said he disagreed "violently" with assertions by the cable industry that Congress does not have the authority to impose limits on its content. "If that's the issue they want to take on, we'll take it on and let the Supreme Court decide," he said.
posted by johnnydark (39 comments total)

 
I won't let those cocksuckers take Deadwood away from me!
posted by johnnydark at 11:06 AM on March 1, 2005


Even if this passes, they'd just have to put Deadwood on after a certain hour, methinks. Not that I agree with them, mind you. But I don't think the slope is that slippery yet.
posted by goatdog at 11:09 AM on March 1, 2005


This guy is full of hot air. Congress has regulatory control over broadcast television and radio because the public "owns" the airwaves, and Congress keeps them "in trust" for the people. Cable and satellite infrastructures are financed, built, owned, and operated by private entities. I can't see any precedent or justification for Congressional censorship of them.
posted by kjh at 11:14 AM on March 1, 2005


At that point, what's the difference between censoring cable and censoring, say, a live stage production?

Or a paid speech?

The ability of the government to regulate the airwaves is based on the fact that the radio bands are a public resource, like the air that they transmit through. (and the logic for keeping dirty stuff out of them is roughly the same)

If it's a private network, paid for (and being paid into) through private industry, then government has no business regulating it and the First Amendment is in full force. This is so clear-cut it's not even debatable.

And I have a hard time believing he doesn't know this, which makes it pretty likely he's just a jerk grandstanding for headlines.
posted by InnocentBystander at 11:15 AM on March 1, 2005


Yeah Senator Stevens, I often pay for stupid shit that offends me and that I don't want to hear about at all.

But let's not bring up the offensive government programs and dumbass politicians I'm forced to support with my taxes.

When I'm not forced by the IRS to pay for crap that offends me, I don't buy crap that offends me. That explains the yawning gap, for instance, on my shelf where all the Celene Dion and N'Sync and Brittney Spears CDs could be, but are not.

You may have heard of this concept, even though as a conservative Republican you apparently don't believe in it: it's called "the free market".

I mean really Senator, I'm supposed to be smart enough to vote in a democratic election for the people who run my country, but at the same time I'm too stupid not to buy shit that I abhor?
posted by orthogonality at 11:24 AM on March 1, 2005


What InnocentBystander said.

This guy is just trying to keep things copacetic between him and the Jesus-y folk out there. All headline, no substance.
posted by 27 at 11:25 AM on March 1, 2005


...Except we only hold the "public airwaves" ideal up in certain instances. If I want to use my part of the public airwaves, I need a license to do so. In obtaining a license I'm also gievn restrictions on what I can do with the property that I supposedly own.

I look at it as more akin to a gated community: You have to pay to live there, and what you do with the chunk of property you own is limited by the local homeowners association. In this case, the senator is calling on the homeowners to start adding rules to the neighboring freestanding properties.

What would the world be like if people couldn't say "fuck" on HBO?

Better yet, what would the world be like if conservative senators didn't grandstand every time someone said "fuck" on TV in the first place? Its not like most kids don't hear those words at home or on the playground to begin with.
posted by caution live frogs at 11:29 AM on March 1, 2005


caution live frogs writes "Better yet, what would the world be like if conservative senators didn't grandstand every time someone said 'fuck' on TV in the first place? Its not like most kids don't hear those words at home or on the playground to begin with."

Home or playground? What the fuck!!??!

I heard it on the floor of the U.S. Senate, from that body's President.
posted by orthogonality at 11:38 AM on March 1, 2005


I look at it as more akin to a gated community: You have to pay to live there, and what you do with the chunk of property you own is limited by the local homeowners association.

You could make a more benign analogy: The public airwaves are like the national parks. Though they're owned by the public, the government charges a fee to access them and limits the behavior of those who have access. In both cases, these restrictions are necessary to maintain the utility of the resource.
posted by mr_roboto at 11:42 AM on March 1, 2005


Before we write this guy off as a harmless politician grandstanding for his constituency, I'd make certain he's a paper tiger by ensuring that such legislation isn't even considered - "remind" your elected officials that this isn't a good idea. It doesn't take much to turn something like this from "just some fruitcake" to "let's protect the children" awfully fast.
posted by FormlessOne at 11:43 AM on March 1, 2005


caution live frogs - The issue is, you do not OWN the airwaves. An FCC license is just that, a license. Not a deed. No matter how much you pay the FCC, the airwaves are still collectively owned by all Americans, not you.

You are, in essence, granted custodial power over them for a limited time, on the condition that you obey certain rules. These rules come from the FCC, which is appointed by the elected Congress for the purpose of, essentially, keeping the airwaves in roughly the shape that The People - the true owners - want them to be in.

(now, please don't take this as a blanket acceptance of the FCC's rulings. I don't like how they're running things right now. But this is how the system is supposed to work in theory, and generally does more often than not. Just like everything else in our government.)
posted by InnocentBystander at 11:44 AM on March 1, 2005


The U.S. House of Representatives has approved legislation to raise fines to $500,000 from $32,500 on television and radio broadcasters that violate indecency limits.

I'm fed up with government mismanagement of indecency. There should be a way for me to take greater control over what I find offensive.
posted by eatitlive at 11:50 AM on March 1, 2005


Cable systems may be privately owned, but don't Satellite TV and Radio use frequencies assigned (and licensed) to them by the... (gasp)... FCC?
posted by wendell at 11:53 AM on March 1, 2005


That's an interesting idea Eatitlive, what did you have in mind? Just an idea here but don't by products of companies that advertise on shows that you find offensive.

(This is the blatantly obvious lunch hour, right?)
posted by CCK at 11:56 AM on March 1, 2005


wendell, Satellite is exempt because of encryption. You have to pay to see what they are "broadcasting". (although it's not that broad)
posted by CCK at 11:58 AM on March 1, 2005


Or, horror of horrors, Mr. and Mrs. Conservative Nuclear Family could not order the super duper deluxe 2947 channel cable package. Then their life would be rid of all the naughty scenes containing premarital sex and cursewords.
posted by gagglezoomer at 11:59 AM on March 1, 2005


When is Congress going to TREAT ME LIKE AN ADULT ???????

JFC! If i pay for it, I want it FCC free!
posted by stevejensen at 12:00 PM on March 1, 2005


FormlessOne: It doesn't take much to turn something like this from "just some fruitcake" to "let's protect the children" awfully fast.

Point taken.

Which is ridiculous, because kids aren't purchasing satellite systems and ordering services geared toward adults. If a kid is "harmed" because of something the parent brings into the house, then that sounds a lot more like irresponsible parenting than a public policy issue to me.
</preaching to the choir >

And if that type of thinking is going to pervade private life, then let's start with guns and work out way up (or down) to TV shows.
posted by 27 at 12:03 PM on March 1, 2005


Man, it's about time Congress stepped in and did something about cable TV....those bastards on C-SPAN must go!
posted by JaxJaggywires at 12:15 PM on March 1, 2005


I'm not smart enough to choose the television programs I want to watch but I can be entrusted with financial planning for my retirement?

Yeppers, I'll trade Golden Girl repeats for a few decades of poverty based on my making an investment decision, a decision that I'm entirely unqualified to make, when I'm twenty-seven.
posted by cedar at 12:21 PM on March 1, 2005


you all are missing the point. His plan of increased government regulation makes much more sense than me as a parent (at some time far in the future) blocking a channel using the menu function. Honestly, where would his constituents find the time?
posted by slapshot57 at 12:41 PM on March 1, 2005


CCK, since you ask, I had in mind a way in which I could wield my personal moral code with the force of government authority. The whole process would have to be extrajudicial, since I don't want to risk first amendment quibbles. (Who has the time to establish legal "community standards" in this factious age?) And ideally, I'd be able to make some money off the deal -- like a national curse jar.

Here's another idea. Perhaps the FCC should issue indecency allowances, much the same way that emissions are traded under the Kyoto Protocol. Collect ten titty stamps and you get to slip a nipple during the Superbowl.

Speaking honestly, just for a moment, I have a hard time finding anything offensive.
posted by eatitlive at 12:43 PM on March 1, 2005


"Take away the right to say fuck and you take away the right to say fuck the government."
-- Lenny Bruce

"There has to be some standard of decency," [Stevens] said. But he also cautioned that "No one wants censorship."

How is enforcing a standard of decency not censorship?
posted by badger_flammable at 12:45 PM on March 1, 2005


"No one wants censorship."

...or is the emphasis on 'wants'?
posted by badger_flammable at 12:46 PM on March 1, 2005


I would LOVE to see the right wing try to mess with what people are allowed to see on pay cable. This would be wonderful for the democrats.
posted by R. Mutt at 2:10 PM on March 1, 2005


But what do you say to parents when their childen are getting credit cards, installing cable and then watching pornography?
posted by ignu at 2:17 PM on March 1, 2005


simple solution, a la carte cable programming.
posted by wah at 2:43 PM on March 1, 2005


Well, ignu...perhaps you could commend their kids' determination, focus and ingenuity.
posted by R. Mutt at 2:45 PM on March 1, 2005


simple solution, a la carte cable programming.

Considering that that's already what every cable customer wants, and what every cable provider wants, I'm not holding my breath.

C'mon, invisible hand! Start pushing!
posted by sonofsamiam at 2:52 PM on March 1, 2005


Dear Senator Stevens,

Fuck you. In the ass. With an electrified cattle prod, you backwards dip-shit.

Sincerely,

Freedom of Expression
posted by shmegegge at 4:27 PM on March 1, 2005


"No one wants censorship..."

No, no, no, they got it all wrong! It should read like this:

"No, one wants censorship..."

Oh, and that bar association logo probably shouldn't be there.
posted by plexiwatt at 4:37 PM on March 1, 2005


plexiwatt wins.

That said, I'm sure the cable companies, Viacom, Time-Warner, et al. will let this just breeeeze through. :)
posted by GriffX at 5:00 PM on March 1, 2005


Seems to me that I read that Broadcast TV and radio were lobbying hard for this so as to 'level the playing field'.

ABC can't program like HBO, so make HBO like ABC (SHUDDER).

If this did pass where would Mr. and Mrs. Red State get their smutty TV? Fox?
posted by UseyurBrain at 5:13 PM on March 1, 2005


I see this as a symptom of the absolute fucking insane politics here in Alaska that allowed this nut to be elected. As long as you promise the people that they will never be required to pay taxes...ever... you will get elected in this state. But god forbid the state cuts back on their services or the Perminant Fund.

And ANWAR? You're a fucking communist if you suggest that it shouldn't be drilled.

In summary, I didn't vote for you, Stevens. Please sit down and be quiet.
posted by Elsbet at 6:15 PM on March 1, 2005


Seems to me that I read that Broadcast TV and radio were lobbying hard for this so as to 'level the playing field'.

Which is either bullshit on their part, or subsidiaries moronically lobbying against each other instead of noticing where the actual competition lies. Broadcast and cable networks belong to the same few corporate portfolios. Thanks to mergers and the mantra of "synergy" if ABC, NBC, ClearChannel, et al have a controversial program they want to distribute, they have ready options for doing that. Where the playing field needs to be leveled is in keeping broadcast tv from becoming 100% pablum instead of the 99.99% it already is. More censorship: excellent way to achieve that. /snark

On one of the blogs recently there was a comparison of the new FCC fines to various fines for felonies. Stuff like you could negligently poison X number of people for the same fine as flashing one Janet Jackson tit pastie. Anyone know the right link?
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 7:01 PM on March 1, 2005


wah's right. increased cable channel choices (including a la carte) are a very first amendment-friendly way to not only deal with indecent/violent programming on cable (you can block a channel in a bundle, but you're still paying for the content you find objectionable), but it's also a way to help break big cable companies and broadcaster's stranglehold on what you get to watch.
posted by kenneth at 9:37 PM on March 1, 2005


Ted Stevens is an Ass Mumper.
posted by papakwanz at 9:48 PM on March 1, 2005


"There never was any blacklist or anything like that. There were some people we were just running out of the business."
- John Wayne.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:05 AM on March 2, 2005


Censor this, cocksucking shit-eating whore bastard!

"If you've got a blacklist, I want to be on it"
--Billy Bragg
posted by Slagman at 6:49 AM on March 2, 2005


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