The WB--the network which will end come September--decided that two girls kissing in one of its newer shows, "The Bedford Diaries," will only get the network and its TV producers into trouble with the Federal Communications Commission.
Given the old FCC rules on indecency, perhaps the network might have just gone ahead, citing First Amendment principles. But with big increases in fines for supposed-indecent video content--and millions of dollars at stake--the WB decided it was better to shift the episode to its Web site, where it could be watched uncut. The WB did run an edited version of the show on Wednesday night.
Considering that the WB is heading off into the sunset, why should it bother? Because the FCC follows you everywhere. No doubt, it doesn't want any lingering after-effects to hit its producers or executives after the WB morphs with rival UPN into the CW this coming fall.
This is strange. Fighting against supposed indecency on TV seems to be only building. Are these warriors swatting at flies considering the rest of the entertainment world? Video content on Internet, VOD, DVRs, and mobile technology make this activity seem futile against the bigger entertainment picture.
Can all these high-level FCC actions be blamed on the nano-second appearance of Janet Jackson's right breast?
No. Fighters for clean--and surely, dull--entertainment would have found something else to kick-start their ailing war that had nothing to fight about since the appearance of Sipowicz' ass in "NYPD Blue" in the early nineties.
Even if you think those TV pressure groups make sense, consider this FCC food for thought: perhaps 85 percent of people watching the Super Bowl and Janet Jackson, as well as another recent FCC-problem CBS show, "Without a Trace," did so through their cable or satellite services.
That means all of these programs--in large part--can be defined as a cable program. What does this mean? CBS doesn't need to adhere to FCC broadcast rules and regulations--at least in 85 percent or so of the country. (To be fair, my fellow TV trade journalists have had this theory for sometime.)
Cementing this theory further, CBS recently acted more like a cable network, making, for the first time, a cable-like deal with Verizon, where its network programming would get paid--just like other cable networks.
All this can only mean one thing: The WB needs to make a new diary entry in "The Bedford Diaries": "Dear Diary: Today we explored the concept that perhaps our producers/writers need to write more freely to keep viewers watching network TV."