Wednesday, June 24, 2009

RULE OF LAW! Until it happens to Fox.

Court Backs Fines for On-Air Expletives

WASHINGTON -- A 5-4 Supreme Court ruling Tuesday upheld the Bush administration's rule penalizing radio and television broadcasters over isolated utterances of an expletive before 10 p.m

This is about Fox losing the case regarding the 2003 Golden Globe Awards, when U2 singer Bono said on live television that winning a trophy was "really, really f -- ing brilliant!" Read the whole thing in the April 29, 2009 Wall Street Journal

This story isn't really about free speech. It's about money. Fox doesn't want to pay the fine. And the liberal media will defend them because they don't want to be fined either. If you have enough money you can figure out a way (with enough clever lawyers and lobbyists) to get around the rules."Follow the money" is great advice for journalists, but also useful when understanding why companies (and people) do certain things.

The right wing authoritarians LOVE rules and like to enforce the rules when it can be used to punish someone else. When it comes to being used against them? Well that's another story! They don't want the rules to apply to them, especially rules that were designed to hurt their competitors or rules that were enacted by their base. For example, say that the base believes that obscenity and indecency is a bad thing. The right wing broadcasters are fine with that, especially when it hurt Howard Stern. But what do they do when it happens to them?

Blogosphere slogan: IOKIYAR which means, It's OK if you are Republican. Sometimes it's their own rules that are broken. I may or may not agree with them. I didn't make them. But the whole industry acknowledged them, and everyone agreed to follow them. They set up 7 second delays, they screened callers and when someone slipped, they fired people. (Like the recent firing of KGO talk radio host "Karel" and the board operator who let the obscenity-laden rant go out on the air and wanted "Joe the Plumber" dead.)

If we demand that they follow the rules they attack us, "Well YOUR people swear all the time! Your liberal friends swear! Your RAP music is all about swearing and killing and violence! We didn't even say it! It was Bono, a LIBERAL, who swore! What about that? Huh? I thought you believed in free speech! I thought you loved George Carlin!"

Exsqueeze me? Baking powder?

These are THEIR rules. I'm just asking that they follow them. This isn't about me, this is about them. The religious right worked overtime to make those rules have financial teeth. Not 6k fines like in the old days, but $350,000 or $550,000 (the hosts should remember that the unions, which the right hates, ensured that those fines wouldn't be levied to the host personally. Be sure to thank your union rep next time you see him.) The right designed software and sent blast emails to the FCC. Many on the right believed the arguments that it was to protect the children. Apparently they even convinced the majority of the Supreme Court.

Their guy, Justice Scalia, remembers the rules that were put into place that they agreed to:

"Programming replete with one-word indecent expletives will tend to produce children" who use them, Justice Scalia wrote.
Instead of just accepting the fine they are fighting it using all their rhetorical and legal tricks. They really want to come down on the side of the First Amendment because the alternative is to come down in favor of obscenity. Well I say let's turn this back to what it is, News Corporation not wanting to follow the obscenity rules.
Right now News Corporation (Fox News parent) is working to develop a brief in favor of people swearing on broadcast radio and TV. That's right, Fox News wants your children to hear more of the F-word, the S-word and the C-word. They want the time when your children are watching TV or listening to the radio to be an unsafe place for children. Of course that is not how they will position it. It will be all about the Government limiting their speech and their "First Amendment Rights!". Now, does Fox have the right to make these arguments? Sure. And they will spend millions of lawyer dollars to make them. They will appeal and delay and work the FCC staffing hoping that they get swearing friendly Obama appointees.

This is just another aspect of big media using their power to break the rules and ignore the wishes of the people (especially their own listeners) when it comes to current and future profits.

FCC Fines That Don't Exist

I like to remind people that the FCC didn't have any fines to give out when Melanie Morgan called for the death of journalists by hanging or when Lee Rodgers called for the killing "like a mad dog" of political supporters of Ron Paul. They did not have a fine for KSFO when Brian Sussman talked about cutting off a finger and a penis of an Iraqi. That is why I went to the advertisers. The management didn't care, they FCC didn't care, because there wasn't a group of people who got together and said, "This kind of violent rhetoric is dangerous and creates an environment where someone will act." I actually asked acting FCC Chairman Michael Copps about this. He said that contacting the advertisers was the best course of action unless I wanted to lead an campaign about new rules for violent content.

But the FCC DOES care about obscenity and indecency on the broadcast airwaves because a one time in history a group of people convinced the FCC to regulate the broadcast airwaves. It was about protecting the children.

This Supreme court ruling means that at this moment in time this is settled law. (Unless you think that Justice Scalia is being an activist Judge!)

I can and will ask the FCC to enforce their own rules about obscenity and indecency because they are their rules. If the right wants to go after Rappers for swearing on publicly broadcast radio or TV, go right ahead, be my guest. The right wing went after Howard Stern and forced him out of broadcast radio, they have the power.

There are very few levers that the public has when it comes to media. Demanding that they pay a financial price for what is deemed irresponsible speech is one of them. We as a country haven't yet decided that calls for death of individuals and groups on broadcast radio and TV is irresponsible enough for an FCC fine. But we have decided that obscenity and indecency qualifies for a fine, if Howard Stern had to pay, so does Fox News.


Post a Comment

<< Home