- ‘Welcome to the edge of freedom’: Biden’s boots touch down in DMZ
- Obama: Hole U.S. ‘digging out of’ requires billions more in unemployment benefits
- Obama’s regulatory agenda will cost U.S. economy $143B next year: report
- Patriot Act author on James Clapper: Fire, prosecute him
- Russia P.M. Medvedev: No amnesty for political prisoners
- Michigan GOP Senate hopeful reminds government is the ‘servant’
- Christmas, by Congress: Members mull a 15-cent tax on trees
- U.S. unemployment falls to five-year low of 7 percent; 203K jobs added
- World mourns Nelson Mandela and celebrates his life; burial set for Dec. 15
- Bill O’Reilly reminds: Nelson Mandela ‘was a communist’
Media firms battle FCC
Three of the nation’s biggest media companies challenged the government’s crackdown on broadcasting indecent material yesterday, joining activists and performers in protesting a Federal Communications Commission decision that opponents said is stifling free speech on the airwaves.
Viacom Inc., the parent company of CBS and the Infinity Broadcasting Corp. radio chain, and Fox Entertainment Group Inc., the parent of the Fox network, signed a petition asking the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to reverse its March 18 ruling against musician Bono’s use of an expletive during last year’s broadcast of the Golden Globes ceremony.
Until now, the broadcasters largely have appeared humbled by the government’s crackdown on indecency, which intensified after Janet Jackson’s breast was briefly exposed during CBS’ Feb. 1 broadcast of the Super Bowl halftime show.
“This is the first comprehensive effort to explain to the FCC how broad and ill-conceived their direction is,” said Robert Corn-Revere, the lawyer for the group that filed the petition, which also includes activist groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union and performers such as comedian Margaret Cho.
National Broadcasting Co. Inc., which aired the annual Golden Globes ceremony on its NBC network, filed a separate petition. The Wall Street Journal published a stinging opinion piece yesterday by Robert C. Wright, NBC’s chairman and chief executive.
“Ultimately, we have much less to fear from obscene, indecent or profane content than we do from an overzealous government willing to limit First Amendment protections and censor creative free expression. That would be indecent,” Mr. Wright wrote.
ABC did not join the petition because it hasn’t been cited by the FCC for indecent programming, officials said.
The decision by the big media companies to challenge the FCC’s Bono decision signals a strategic shift, several industry analysts said. Executives originally dismissed the FCC’s post-Super Bowl crackdown as election-year politics, but increasingly are worried about the agency’s long-term direction, the analysts said.
“The broadcasters are sending a cautionary message that restricting the First Amendment will not be productive for them,” said Blair Levin, a media analyst for investment banker Legg Mason Inc. and a former FCC staffer.
An FCC spokeswoman declined comment. Once the agency reviews a petition challenging one of its decisions, it must decide whether to reverse or reaffirm it.
Mr. Corn-Revere said the commissioners’ actions have prompted broadcasters to abandon live programming and have forced them to drop or edit songs such as the Who’s “Who Are You” and Sheryl Crow’s “A Change Would Do You Good.”
Even public broadcasting has been affected, he said, noting that PBS felt it had to edit some of the work by poet Piri Thomas out of a documentary on his life.
“The FCC is now setting itself up as a national censorship board, seeking to impose its version of morality on the American public,” said Chris Hansen, an ACLU staff attorney.
Bono, lead singer for the rock group U2, used an expletive when he said, “This is really, really … brilliant” while accepting an award during NBC’s January 2003 broadcast of the Golden Globes ceremony, sparking hundreds of complaints to the FCC.
The agency’s enforcement bureau later determined that the word was not profane because it did not refer to a sexual act in the context in which Bono used it.
- Bill OReilly reminds: Nelson Mandela was a communist
- Spike in battlefield deaths linked to restrictive rules of engagement
- Obama administration issues permits for wind farms to kill more eagles
- Obama: Hole U.S. 'digging out of' requires billions more in unemployment benefits
- Craigslist killers: Police say newlyweds stabbed man for thrills
- 'Dude, I'm dreading that I will have to go': Czech prime minister on Mandela funeral
- Kill team: Obama war chiefs widen drone death zones
- Rush Limbaugh: Obama trying to make Mandela death about himself
- NAPOLITANO: Pope Francis should be saving souls, not pocketbooks
- John Boehner says GOP should support gay candidates: I do
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Find the latest news and happening that effect those in the Washington D.C., Northern Virginia and Maryland Metro region.
A stat-head’s outlook, direct from his worn in couch cushion.
Classical music and the performing arts: news and reviews you can use.
Covering the world of soccer, including the World Cup, Major League Soccer, D.C. United and the English Premier League and other interesting sporting events.
White House pets gone wild!