Just An Online Minute... FCC Push Means Network's Loss, Web's Gain

If the FCC intended to scare TV networks into sanitizing broadcast programming by imposing staggering multimillion-dollar "indecency" fines, the tactic worked. Almost. The feds have chased portions of the new WB show "The Bedford Diaries" off the air--and onto the Web.

The New York Times reported today that the WB is shying away from broadcasting scenes that could potentially offend the federal watchdogs, like a shot of two girls kissing in a bar.

But, rather than leave the footage on the cutting room floor, the WB will make the entire, unexpurgated version of the show available online. Just as Howard Stern decided to move to satellite radio and save himself the aggravation of battling the FCC, the WB is turning to the Internet rather than risk a fight with the government.

It's unfortunate for TV audiences that the WB isn't putting up more of a fight; instead, the network seems all too willing to capitulate and simply cede ground to cable and the movies.

On the other hand, providing complete "director's-cut" shows online can only be a boon for the Web, ultimately driving more and more consumers online, showing them that content unavailable anywhere else can be found on the Internet.