- Pentagon plans to destroy Syrian chemical arms on ship at sea
- Paris Metro issues ‘politeness manual’ to improve passengers’ behavior
- Justin Bieber, crew detained at Australian airport in drug search
- Lee Rigby trial: Muslim who machete-hacked soldier calls it ‘humane’ kill
- GM ending Chevy sales in Europe to focus on Opel and Vauxhall
- Putin’s diplomats to U.S. busted for living high life off $1.5M bilked from Medicaid
- Happy Meal: Couple goes to McDonald’s, leaves with bag packed with cash
- Boehner: It took me 3 to 4 hours to sign up for Obamacare
- Oh my God! Costco lists Bible as fiction, Ron Burgundy memoir as gospel
- Sarah Palin responds to Martin Bashir’s resignation, praises media
TV viewers weary of nudity and obscenity look for decency from FCC nominee
The future of long-standing government bans on obscenity and nudity on the airwaves soon could become much clearer as President Obama's pick to head the Federal Communications Commission faces a Senate confirmation hearing Tuesday — one day before the public comment period on the policy ends.
Groups battling indecent content on television are urging members of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee to press FCC nominee Tom Wheeler about his views on decency standards.
They also are calling for supporters to denounce an FCC proposal to pursue only "egregious" decency violations, saying that change would open the floodgates for partial nudity and rampant profanity during prime time.
"If you think TV is bad now, just wait until the FCC all but sanctions nudity and profanity, permitting both as long as they are 'isolated,' whatever that means," Patrick A. Trueman, president and chief executive of Morality in Media, said in a recent email to supporters.
A spokesman for the broadcasting industry said Monday that because of FCC "overreach," networks are legitimately worried that they will be sued for rare occasions in which a "fleeting expletive" or split second of nudity is aired.
It's come to a point when networks can't show a live eulogy about a fallen war hero for fear that someone will drop the "F-bomb" and expose the networks to huge fines, said Dennis Wharton, executive vice president of communications for the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), referring to an incident in Arizona.
The nation's decency laws are likely to be discussed at the Senate hearing.
Current federal decency law forbids explicit profanity and nudity before 10 p.m. on public airwaves. However, FCC efforts to enforce the law have been challenged in court, and a 2012 U.S. Supreme Court ruling threw out penalties against networks because the FCC failed to give them "fair notice" about what was an actionable federal offense.
The FCC has since asked for comment on a policy that essentially would permit "isolated" profanity and nonsexual nudity to appear before 10 p.m. without fear of penalty. This presumably would mean that broadcasters would not be held responsible for curse words spoken on a live awards show or the kind of "wardrobe malfunction" that exposed Janet Jackson's breast at the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show.
The comment period on the FCC policy change ends Wednesday. As of Monday evening, 99,096 comments had been filed. The vast majority were along the lines of Utah resident Randy Hughes' comment: "We don't need any more garbage on TV! There is enough garbage out there for those who want it. Those of us who don't shouldn't be forced to have to deal with it. You are making it impossible to watch any kind of TV without having to deal with filth!"
The NAB will file its comments Wednesday, Mr. Wharton said.
The NAB has signaled its support for Mr. Wheeler, saying it looks forward to working with a man with such "experience and temperament."
Mr. Wheeler's position on the decency issue is not known, and the Senate should not confirm him "until it receives assurances that he'll vigorously enforce the federal decency law, which prohibits indecency and profanity on broadcast TV," Mr. Trueman said Monday.
The previous FCC chairman "executed no enforcement actions during his tenure," Mr. Trueman and leaders of dozens of other groups that support moral values, said in a letter to Congress in May.
"So we want [Mr. Wheeler] grilled on whether he will enforce the law and side with the American public, or continue [the previous FCC chairman's] path and please the networks," said Mr. Trueman, a former federal prosecutor of sex and obscenity crimes.
The Parents Television Council this month issued an analysis showing a rising number of "pixilated" groins, female breasts and other indecent images on network programming.
Almost 70 percent of this kind of "blurred" nudity is being shown on network programs that are rated for children 14 and younger, said Tim Winter, president of the Parents Television Council.
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Cheryl Wetzstein covers family and social issues as a national reporter for The Washington Times. She has been a reporter for three decades, working in New York City and Washington, D.C. Since joining The Washington Times in 1985, she has been a features writer, environmental and consumer affairs reporter, and assistant business editor. Beginning in 1994, Mrs. Wetzstein worked exclusively ...
- Pregnancies decline overall, up among older women
- Embryonic stem cell research falls out of favor as scientists go ethical
- With new HIV research, FDA may let gay men donate blood
- HHS report shows a decrease in blood supply but also a drop in demand
- Little change in practice for China's one-child family policy
Latest Blog Entries
- Pro-life, stem-cell bill signed into law by Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback
- N. Dakota lawmakers approve tough abortion bill
- Pope Benedict XVI's successor should allow priests to get a new title: Husband, poll finds
- House votes to reject Obama welfare shift
- Report: Two out of three Democrats support gay marriage
- 'Hunger Games' delivers Obama's message on income inequality: liberal group
- CURL: 'Mission Accomplished' for Obamacare
- CARSON: Getting to the top by starting at the bottom
- Obama returns to class warfare as poll numbers plunge
- Hack attack: 2 million Facebook, Twitter passwords stolen
- NAPOLITANO: Pope Francis should be saving souls, not pocketbooks
- Democratic infighting erupts over 'we can have it all' fantasy on entitlements
- HARPER: 'Knockout game' not a myth to liberal Sharpton
- American teacher shot and killed at Benghazi international school
- Hola: Boehner prepares to push amnesty bill through House
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
All of the world’s problems, solved on your back porch
Brazen, leading-edge, “call it like it is” columns and reporting from Ohio native, radio host and writer, Sara Marie Brenner.
Entertainment News and Reviews from Washington, D.C. and beyond.
White House pets gone wild!