Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Obscenity On The Hill

At last, The Hill is talking media. Unfortunately, the discourse came in advance of a losing effort to kill a House indecency bill that will increase fines for broadcasters who cross a Republican drawn line for propper content. Representatives tussled in advance of the vote over such key issues as media consolidation, Armstrong Williams, Sinclair, the Department of Education, Rupert Murdoch, campaign coverage, advocacy ads and a lot more, making for a spirited debate on issues that are important to many of us involved in media reform.

The newly passed Broadcast Decency Enforcement Act of 2005 will increase fines broadcaster fines for unseemly content from $32,500 per violation to $500,000. The new rules will also do away with warnings handed out for a performer's first offense. A "three strikes" clause in the legislation would require the FCC to consider license revocation after three violations for indecency. Jonathan Rintels of the Center for Creative Voices in Media writes:
The exponential increase in “indecency” fines for broadcasters, and the application of those fines to performers on their first offense, will turn the chill that has already descended over our nation’s media into a deep freeze. Today’s vote was a tragedy for creative artists. More importantly, it was a tragedy for the American public.
In advance of the vote, several members attempted to add amendments, "including reinstituting the fairness doctrine, rolling back media consolidation, and even delaying erectile dysfunction ads until after 10 pm," according to a report by John Eggerton.

Similar "poison pill" amendments helped kill the same bill last year, the righteous House Telecommunications Subcommittee Chairman Fred Upton effectively blocked these to see this one through.

"Democrats accused Republicans of protecting corporate media giants and their sometimes biased broadcasts by excluding debate on consolidation and other issues," Eggerton writes of the often heated discussion prior to the vote.

Democrats Louise Slaughter and Lynn Woolsey called for a return of the fairness doctrine, saying that declining standards of fairness and truth in broadcasting are a bigger indecency. News people passing off opinion as news, that's indecent, Slaughter told other Representatives, or "paying to advocate opinions on the public airwaves without disclosure, I call that indecent," she said. "One-sided documentaries designed to impact an election without equal time. That's indecent and dangerous."

Barney Frank pointed to the Department of Education's pressure on PBS to drop an episode of "Postcards from Buster" featuring lesbian parents as an incident that has fueled the pervasive climate of self-censorship across the country. Democrat Frank blamed the majority party as firing up the "censorship of free and open debate."

While much of this boiled down to partisan grandstanding over amendments that were doomed from the outset, it's impressive at least to hear talk of a better media system playing a larger part in our national discourse. Sadly, it was as a part of a losing cause.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

I wonder how long before we can look forward to crackdowns on "indecent" speech, along with "unamerican" speech, as well as enforcement of other "morality" violations, such as, oh, reading for example.

This is the "freedom" our boys are dying for that the Bush league keeps referring to?

HEIL BUSH!!!

Anonymous said...

I think the "freedom" our boys are dying for is the freedom of the Iraqis. It is pretty obvious to me that our men are not out there protecting our borders, but creating new borders for our republican front. The question I have is, how are these republicans promoting democracy around the world? Dont the republicans believe in a republic? Why aren't they promoting republic governments? My guess is they are using democracy as a front for a republic.
Note - A democracy is a government elected by the people and run by the people for the people, a republic is a government elected by the people and run by the elected officials for the "people" (or for corporate profits as in our case).

Anonymous said...

I think the "freedom" our boys are dying for is the freedom of the Iraqis. It is pretty obvious to me that our men are not out there protecting our borders, but creating new borders for our republican front. The question I have is, how are these republicans promoting democracy around the world? Dont the republicans believe in a republic? Why aren't they promoting republic governments? My guess is they are using democracy as a front for a republic.
Note - A democracy is a government elected by the people and run by the people for the people, a republic is a government elected by the people and run by the elected officials for the "people" (or for corporate profits as in our case).

Anonymous said...

America has proclaimed itself number 1, the leader of the free world ( we are the world leader in air and water pollution ). Leadership at best is a temporary position, there is only one way to go from here with our current agenda.

With very few exceptions TV media is the PR tool for 'corporatisim', ( a term coined by Mussolini which he suggested was the best description of fascism ), fewer people are controlling more of it, if we buy into it we will be divided by miss-information and disinformation, wmd's etc. We need to be independent free thinking individuals and focus on becoming more highly evolved in our humanity instead we are a bunch of pathological narcissists believing that everyone wants to be like us. We are obsessed with getting and having more, satisfaction is fleeting at best, fulfillment is not even on the chart, we revert to acquiring more in an attempt to pacify our troubled selves.

We have become greedy and self absorbed, we hide behind the facade of our corporations which are motivated by self-interest, they are inherently amoral, callous and deceitful; they breach social and legal standards to get their way; they do not suffer from guilt, yet they can mimic the human qualities of empathy, caring and altruism.

Until we can develop a sense of the whole world, inclusion and celebrate the richness of our diversity and the human experience we are going to be divided. The absence of international news in mainstream American news is in itself telling, if we portray ourselves as standing alone as number 1 then we must be prepared to go down with a big fight, and a big fight it will be, there will be no winners just more death and more destruction and for what, the sake of having a fight........... add nihilistic to the list.

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