Okay Commissioner Powell, But How Would You Rule On Those Cheerleaders?

Now TV programming has to do with pride - at least that's the way Michael Powell, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission sees it.

In an interview, Powell wondered if the Walt Disney Company was "proud" of the skit before the "Monday Night Football" game, which featured a towel-only dressed Nicollete Sheridan tempting Philadelphia Eagles' Terrell Owens.

No. They were pridefully entertained -- that's why they ran it. And yes it was in its dignity to cross-promote Sheridan's show "Desperate Housewives" to gain even more ratings for the already popular show. It's called capitalism, I'm told.

Last night, a guest on ESPN's "Outside the Lines" wondered about the hypocrisy of the NFL. The league has allowed skimpily dressed Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders on the sidelines for the last 30 years, but obviously does not like a woman, in character, in a big bath towel (one that would cover at least two or three cheerleaders).



Shocking as it seems, under Powell's definition, there are perhaps more prideful situations missing.

Are the producers of "CSI: New York" proud when they show in grim detail the remains of a man who died after being engulfed by fire? Or how about the week before when investigators - in a nice bloody close-up -- were handling a dismembered leg which was cut off by someone's drill bit?

Wait. How about the over-the-top, sex-filled daytime soap operas that air at 2 p.m. or 3 p.m. in the afternoon ? It seems critics worry about children watching during primetime hours. How about daytime soap programming that airs some six hours before primetime?

Why is there no protest then? How come you didn't include CSI producer Jerry Bruckheimer and daytime soap-producer Procter & Gamble Productions along with Walt Disney in your criticism?

Overall, it seems like violence is okay, but not sex, foul language, or - for some strange reason - daytime sex. (Sex in the sunshine is no doubt more honest than having it in the evening where, I guess, it lurks in the shadows.)

I agree with yesterday's New York Times commentary. The networks are too timid. They should just issue regular apologies superimposed over most of their special programming.

You want morality in television, you've got it, Mr. Powell. Now try managing it.

And as long as critics and maybe the FCC are going after the Walt Disneys of the world, how about those immoral TV religious ministers who take money from poor souls looking for salvation? Some of those religious shows are still in your view -- airing on broadcast television.

If you make Walt Disney responsible for its actions, you may as well ask that of all programmers. That's because in this new media world, if a program offends any particular audience, it needs to be taken off.

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