The public airwaves and indecency: We all know where we stand on that. But do we know exactly what marketers think? For the most part they don't want to piss off customers, which can include parents and morally minded adults.
The truth is that 90% of U.S TV homes get TV stations via paying for cable, satellite or telco. It's really about paid airwaves and indecency. If we are now paying these TV distributors and if those distributors are paying to carry TV stations, where is the “public” in all this?
The Supreme Court has knocked down fines for "fleeting expletives" and "brief nudity," but that doesn't mean fines can't be levied in the future by the Federal Communications Commission. The high court said some previous transgressions have to do with the timing of the then newish FCC rules over "fleeting" stuff -- and even then, for the most part, those rules were "vague."
So going forward, perhaps more stuff will be “specific” and more “timely.” But the key question remains: What is protected under the First Amendment? That wasn't addressed. Network executives were maybe quietly high five-ing on Thursday. But this isn't the end.
Advocates say parents should be the deciding factor when it comes to what TV shows with sketchy content run in their homes. But what parents can be around TV and media 24/7? Where does that leave the FCC? Still as a monitoring, protection, and enforcement agency? In these times, that sounds vague to me.
All this fuss still concerns a decreasingly small part of the media world. If you are a parent, perhaps you should worry about "fleeting" stuff on social media areas, YouTube and emails. And why just concentrate on broadcast TV when cable TV, video on demand, and subscription video on demand services (like Netflix) have been the real growing issue.
Marketers have been leery of YouTube’s user-generated video because it's still the “wild West” to them, so they’ve given better play to online viewing of premium TV (consisting mostly of catch-up viewing of traditional TV series). Even with incredibly limited schedules, parents still need to be there for their children -- because difficult conversations are coming.
I'm reminded of a story someone told me while walking on La Croisette in Cannes at one of the TV markets years ago. The first day of the event, a young boy walking with his father, a U.S. TV executive, is wide-eyed, amazed at the unclothed bodies on the beaches. The second day, and another stroll, the boy raised an eyebrow -- but no more reaction than that. By the time the third day came, he was merely shrugging his shoulders.
Already jaded. Familiarity not only breeds contempt but sometimes boredom. This goes double for indecency.