FCC Guidelines on Indecency May Be Tough to Enforce

by Allie Martin

(AgapePress) – The head of a media watchdog group has mixed feelings about a recent policy statement by the FCC on broadcast indecency.

The Federal Communication Commission's statement — titled “Enforcement Policies Regarding Broadcast Indecency” — listed methods the agency is taking to curb obscene and vulgar television programming. The guidelines promise harsh penalties for television and radio networks which feature explicit and graphic programming. The statement also points out flaws of current enforcement methods.

Bob Peters is president of the New York-based Morality in Media. He says enforcement is lax because of complaint procedures.

“The Commission also reasserted its right to refuse to act on an indecency complaint unless the complainant provides the FCC with a tape or transcript of the offending program,” Peters says. “I think [in] the … vast majority of instances, people who are offended by content in the broadcast medium are not taping the program when it happens. There is absolutely no way they can provide a transcript or tape of the program.”

Peters says many of the commissioners and government bureaucrats who are supposed to enforce FCC regulations have a severe conflict of interest.

“Many of these bureaucrats and at least some of the commissioners are more concerned with protecting the industry than they are with protecting the public. And unfortunately, that's a perversion of the commission's purpose,” he says. “The commission was not set up to protect the broadcast industry. It was set up to protect the American people.”

The guidelines were released to settle a seven-year-old lawsuit brought by a radio group demanding specific guidance to avoid FCC punishment.

(This update courtesy of Agape Press.)

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