Atrios asks about setting up a liberal version of Brent Bozell's Media Research Center and Parent's Television Council, which are apparently responsible for > 99% of recent complaints to the FCC. As explained in great detail by Washington Post Staff Writer Bob Thompson last Thursday, the PTC uses sheltered, infantilized graduates of conservative religious colleges to monitor media morality. When they detect something "objectionable," they send action alerts out to their ~ million member list, generating huge numbers of complaints to the FCC from people that wouldn't and don't usually watch the shows they're complaining about. A single complaint to the FCC is adequate to trigger an investigation.
I don't often sympathize with pro-corporation regulatory schemes - but usually it's because the pro-corp. schemes are anti-democratic. The FCC's system is so broken that reregulating in a pro-corporate direction is actually more democratic than the current system. The PTC, even when all million members express genuine outrage over a bit of programming, are still a minority faction using the power of the state to impose their views on the rest of society. And there is no procedure for challenging them.
Someone has complained to the FCC about indecency at the Olympic Games Opening Ceremonies. [Lisa de Moraes, FCC Wary of Greeks Baring Gifts at Games, Washington Post, 12/11/04] I feel fairly strongly that televised expressions of Greek heritage are actually good, even when boobies are involved; similarly, I think naked cherubim and bare breasted depictions of Justice are acceptable for public consumption. There is nowhere for me to register my preference. Should I write to the FCC everytime I see a tasteful (or funny or pleasantly ironic) depiction of human sexuality, requesting that the FCC not fine that show? If I see a particularly incisive piece of critical commentary that features profanity, should I email the FCC to register my approval?
Jeff Jarvis' FOIA request.
The number of indecency complaints had soared dramatically to more than 240,000 in the previous year, Powell said. The figure was up from roughly 14,000 in 2002, and from fewer than 350 in each of the two previous years. There was, Powell said, “a dramatic rise in public concern and outrage about what is being broadcast into their homes.”Ellen Gray, Parents Television Council Carries a Big Stick with FCC, Philladelphia Inquirer, 12/8/04.
What Powell did not reveal—apparently because he was unaware—was the source of the complaints. According to a new FCC estimate obtained by Mediaweek, nearly all indecency complaints in 2003—99.8 percent—were filed by the Parents Television Council, an activist group.