08 September 2006

FCC Told to Take a Hike

Thanks to three logically thinking, reasonable, and clearly intelligent judges, CBS and its affiliates can re-air a documentary featuring recorded excerpts of people who, in the heat of the events of 11 September 2001, used words that probably should not be uttered in polite company.

The three-judge panel for the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals told the Federal Communications Commission to refine its new rules that, if broken, could impose huge fines on stations which air the "offending" programs. One vocal minority group had threatened to bombard the FCC with complaints should the program air -- for its third time. (No complaints were issued the first two times. How odd....)

I, personally, am not offended by the occasional use of "foul" language, and I have been known to utter a word here or there that might make some people blush. However, I am far more offended by a small group of people thinking they can threaten a television network to do things their way -- or else.

If such people are offended by such language, may I suggest a very simple and revenue-neutral solution: don't watch the program. CBS plans to add a disclaimer warning about the strong content. When that disclaimer pops up, change the channel. Better yet, go play a game of Scrabble.

As a clarification, I totally support fines against programs that allow offensive language or conduct in such a situation that it would surprise the viewer -- no matter who is responsible. I understand parents wanting to protect their offspring as long as humanly possible, thinking that the schoolyard is totally bereft of such language or conduct, that the music their wee ones listen to is not actually about sex, violence, drugs, or hurting small animals. I understand those efforts; and, I suppose, applaud them -- as futile as they invariably are.

In summary: fines for the surprises (like the over-hyped boob incident); but no fines when warnings are clearly given.

The CBS show, called "9/11" airs Sunday.

More information about the judges' decision will be found

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