FCC: Help Or Hinderance Essay

This essay has a total of 1338 words and 5 pages.

FCC: Help Or Hinderance

A long, long time ago our fore fathers sat down and drafted the most influential document
of our lives as Americans, The Constitution. In this historical guideline for a free
society the first Amendment deals with what they thought was a main need in our society
that did not necessarily exist in other cultures at that time. This main need was free
speech. Since this document was put into place, the issue of free speech has been heatedly
debated among the common public, big business, and worldwide industries. The government
has always been the moderator in cases dealing with free speech, much like when the PMRC
(Parents Music Resource Center) fought diligently to get the government to mandate warning
labels on media containing adult material and succeeded. However, in our society nowadays
the enemy is the moderator. A government supported agency, the FCC, has violated the right
of free speech from U.S. citizens by over-censoring the media along with also hurting
American businesses by issuing outrageous fines to supposed "offenders" without solid
grounds to do so.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was put into place in 1934 by the government
to regulate the airwaves in the U.S. Up until recently it had performed its duties to the
needs of the public after careful analysis of each infraction. However, at the Super Bowl
in 2004 during the half-time show a wardrobe malfunction, which exposed Janet Jackson's
breast, caused the powers that be to crack down on the entertainment industry as a whole.
The actual infraction was during a dance routine in which Justin Timberlake touches the
chest area of Ms. Jackson and pulls her toward him by using her blouse, however the blouse
apparently ripped and exposed her nipple. The response to this obvious accident was
completely uncalled for. The FCC fined CBS over a half a million dollars for this
accident. Then on Feb. 16, 2005 the House of Representatives passed the Broadcast Decency
Enforcement Act. This legislation states that the amount that the FCC can fine
broadcasters up to 500,000 per infraction per deviant. For example, Howard Stern was fined
personally for something derogatory on his morning radio show. But not only was Stern
fined but also Clear Channel the company that broadcasts his show and every affiliate of
Clear Channel. These fines prove nothing and also begin to show a very scary thought of
censorship throughout America.

On Veteran's day this year, many networks shied away from playing Saving Private Ryan
which is usually played uncut on that day in honor of the World War II veterans. In the
FCC's definition of what is indecent it states," ….anything described in a patently
offensive way, and lacking serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific is
considered obscene and indecent." While there is obvious violence and profanity in this
movie it can be described anyway else. It's a movie about war how can violence and
profanity be edited without keeping the integrity of the creative work as a whole.

"If we put Big Brother in charge of deciding what is art and what is free speech, we would
see self- and actual- censorship rise to new and undesirable heights." says Rep. Jan
Schakowsky. (CNN 1) Rated - R movies aren't the only programs that broadcasters are
getting scared away from playing. The Oscars this year got the worst ratings they ever had
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