Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

FCC Chair's Remarks to Senate Committee on Broadcast Indecency

In a statement today before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, FCC Chair Kevin Martin said that "television today...contains some of the coarsest programming ever aired. Indeed, the networks appear to be increasing the amount of programs designed to "push the envelope"--and too often the bounds of decency. For instance, the use of profanity during the "Family Hour" increased 95% from 1998 to 2002. Another recent study found that 70 percent of television shows in the 2004-2005 season had some sexual content, and the number of sexual scenes had nearly doubled since 1998." [footnotes omitted]

Martin called for the cable industry and networks to address consumer concerns, including perhaps offering programming packages that would allow customers to purchase "family friendly" packages "as an alternative to the "expanded basic" tier on calbe or the intial tier on DBS. This alternative would enable parents to enjoy the increased options and high-quality programming available through cable and satellite without having to purchase programming unsuitable for children. Parents could get Nickelodeon and Discovery without having to buy other adult-oriented fare." In the alternative Martin proposed that cable channels be "subject to the same indecency regulations that currently apply only to broadcast. This standard would apply only to channels that consumers are required to purchase as part of the expanded basic package, not premium channels. This solution would respond to the many people calling for the same rules to apply to everyone--for a level playing field."

Read Commissioner Martin's remarks in their entirety here.

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