Angry about a proposal to relax the Federal Communications Commission's rules regulating indecent content on broadcast television and radio, the Parents Television Council and Morality in Media are pressing Congress to stop the regulatory agency in its tracks.
"We urgently request that you do all you can to stop the proposed enforcement standard, including opposing any nominee to the Federal Communications Commission who supports changing the current standard," wrote PTC President Tim Winter and Morality in Media President Patrick Trueman in a letter to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation and the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
At issue is the FCC's April notice seeking comments from the industry and consumers about raising the bar for indecency notices and fines for so-called indecent content.
Specifically, the agency is trying to decide if it should shift the focus of its enforcement efforts to egregious cases such as a disc jockey swearing or talking dirty for shock value and not dwell so much on the occasional inadvertent fleeting expletive or flash of nudity, such as when Cher cursed during an awards show or when Janet Jackson's breast was exposed during a Super Bowl halftime show.
The push from the commission for a new policy came after a 2012 Supreme Court ruling that said the FCC's enforcement of its indecency rules was too "vague." Under President Obama, the FCC has not been as aggressive in pursuing indecency cases as the agency was under President Bush, which is another issue for the PTC and Morality in Media.
"The FCC has been derelict in this regard under the leadership of its current Chairman Julius Genachowski," the letter said.
The PTC's Winter said in a statement that the FCC's proposal to change its indecency regulations is "absurd, and it must be defeated." Morality in Media's Trueman added, "Congress is more responsive to the public than the unelected five-member FCC commission and many in Congress will act to stop the FCC."
The letter from the pair was co-signed by more than 75 groups and individuals.
Since the FCC first said it was looking into rethinking how it enforces its indecency rules, the PTC has been on a campaign to create a large opposition to the commission's plans. It declared this week "No Indecency FCC Week," and has been urging its members and the public to file letters at the FCC urging it to get tougher on television.
The FCC's indecency rules apply only to broadcast radio and television because they use the public airwaves to transmit programming. Cable networks, which have far racier content, are not overseen by the FCC.
Broadcasters have for years tried to compete with cable by getting more risque.
“It is high time for the FCC to do its job and protect children and families from indecent content on TV and radio," Winter said. "No more excuses.”
Follow Joe Flint on Twitter @JBFlint.
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