Wednesday, June 14, 2006

CBS Stations: Sex Fines Without Merit

CBS Stations: Sex Fines Without Merit
CBS affiliates filed a motion on Tuesday to have the $3.3 million worth of fines levied against a Dec. 31, 2004, Without a Trace rebroadcast — which, the FCC says, depicted "numerous sexual activities" and "sexual conduct" amongst teens — tossed out because not one of the 4,211 complaints about the episode came from anyone outside of the websites operated by two conservative advocacy groups, the Parents Television Council and the American Family Association. "Permitting enforcement reliant on a national mass e-mail campaign is akin to permitting the [FCC] to single out programming it dislikes, in the absence of any viewer complaint," argue the affiliates. ( – entertainment news)

My comment: no duh.

My other comment: Obviously, the members of the above referenced organizations have nothing better to do with their time than create unnecessary work for lawyers. Because a small percentage (and perhaps, allegedly small-minded) group of people find a show ‘objectionable’ to their tastes, not necessarily the tastes of the millions of people who viewed the show that night, CBS affiliates are fined $3.3 million. Let me put that number into percentage perspective: .004% people found the show objectionable, if figuring that only 1 million people watched the show that night. So, CBS affiliates get fined $3.3 million because .004% of people find the show objectionable. Give me a break, people, and get a life. If you don’t want to watch the show, don’t watch it. If you don’t want your kids watching the show, then don’t let them watch it. The majority of cable boxes allow responsible parents to block a channel. My advice: block it and get a life.

I cannot even believe I am doing a blog entry based on the above news item. Technically, it is a waste of time. Importantly, it is not. The public at large needs to stand up against organizations that feel they have the right to censor, in any way, shape or form. One voice can make a difference. I understand the need to stand up for convictions – I’m doing it here and now. I understand the passion of convictions. The only passion about censorship should be a passion against censorship.

Both the Parents Television Council and the American Family Association are allegedly attempting to reshape society in their – allegedly – narrow-minded vision. I applaud their efforts. They have every right to stand up for their beliefs. They do not have the right, at least in my opinion, to infringe upon my beliefs, or deny me the right to choose what I want to watch or do not want to watch on television. If I don’t want to watch something, I change the channel or turn the television off. It’s a simple enough process that requires almost no effort on my part. If I find a book objectionable, I don’t buy it. Again, simple enough. I do not send out mass emailings – though, I guess this blog could be considered a mass email – so that the CBS affiliates are fined an inordinate amount of money for a show that was only objectionable to members of the aforementioned groups, and a .004% at that. Technically, based on the actual viewership numbers for that episode, the percentage is probably far less than .004%.
The true question here, is how many people in that .004% actually watched the show? Or, is the simple fact, that only one person watched the show that night, and then sent out a mass email to all the members of that group and requested that they send the emails to the FCC? I think my scenario is the actuality of the situation. Perhaps, the FCC should subpoena all 4,211 people who sent the emails, put them under oath, and ask the simple question: Did you watch Without a Trace on the night of December 31, 2004? Hmmm . . .

As an addendum to the above: please note that - as was pointed out to me earlier - not all the members of the above-mentioned groups are narrow-minded indivduals . . . only some of them, and, again, that is only my personal opinion. I was wrong in not adding the word 'some' to the earlier portions of the post. People are not easily definied into a simple stereotype. I have ranted against that idea before; unfortunately, I fell into the same stereotyping calamaity. Sorry.