Indecency Claims Target Last Gasp Of True Broadcasters

Check for indecency in indecency news story headlines.

"FCC Smut Complaints Sextuple in 1Q" said on Friday. "FCC Indecency Complaints Sextuple in 1Q" repeated in picking up the story.

Sextuple? Complainers should have held back a bit for quintuple or stepped it up for septuple. Indecency indeed must be on the rise in that it spills over into commentary in the press that covers the TV business.

So much for the fun. The real question: Is indecency growing--or it is just the complaints? It seems the latter. What was decent before is indecent now. Producers say the current entertainment environment is so strict that programs they made in the early '90s could never get made today. Craig Zadan, executive producer of the 1995 TV movie, "Serving in Silence: The Margarethe Cammermeyer Story," about a highly decorated and admitted homosexual female officer's legal challenge, told MediaDailyNews that, given the current cultural environment, "that film could never be made today."



Like it or not, TV pressure groups seemingly have amassed some political clout in 2006. So much so, TV Week said that without the Parents Television Council, for example, the whole Congressional push for indecency bills--in the House and the Senate--would have never gotten started.

By all accounts, this should make TV marketers even more nervous than in the late 1980s and early '90s, when mass marketers were quick to jump into their PR executives' arms to create corporate family-friendly personas.

These days you have to wonder. CBS wouldn't broadcast "The Reagans" mini-series for supposed pressure that it wasn't journalistically sound. Then the same company turns to its small pay TV channel, Showtime, so it can air the show. What's the difference here?

Advertising. One network is ad-supported and one isn't. TV pressure groups can more easily target advertisers on CBS than viewers on Showtime.

The indecency bill targets broadcasters--but that is a misnomer these days, as we know. Sure, you can find them on a TV with just an antenna these days. But how many viewers are reached that way? These days broadcasters want to be known as content providers--offering up programming through cable wires (85 percent or so viewers get the networks that way), satellite dishes, their own Web sites, or through iTunes, AOL or Google.

With new digital ways of sending out programming, what then happens to over-the-airwaves indecency, indecency bills, and TV pressure groups? They fade to black, or morph into unrecognizable static.

New headline: "FCC indecency complaints become limp; TV pressure groups go bust."

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