February 11, 2006

Speak to Spellings (sticky)

Posted by Amanda Toering
January 28, 2005 @ 4:18 pm
Filed under: General, Action

James Dobson’s Focus on the Family has sent an appeal to its members , asking them to thank Margaret Spellings for her lesbian-bunny censorship. FoF has graciously provided a web form from which concerned citizens can mail Spellings. SpeakSpeak is grateful; it means less work for us.

The makings of a letter can be found inside.

PLEASE NOTE that in order to send your letter to Secretary Spellings, you must go to the Focus on the Family link. Posting a comment here is great, but posting a comment here won’t send your message to the Department of Ed.




Write PBS — Now!

Posted by Amanda Toering
January 28, 2005 @ 9:08 am
Filed under: Action, Buster

Today’s LA Times reports that local PBS affiliates’ are having to decide whether to run the “controversial” Sugartown! episode of “Postcards from Buster.” (Remember? The one where Buster Bunny runs into some Vermont lesbians and the world doesn’t end?)

Please contact your local PBS affiliate and ask them not to censor this episode. The brand new Secretary of Education, Margaret Spellings, has said that “many parents would not want their young children exposed to the lifestyles portrayed in this episode.”

Prove her wrong. Write PBS.

Use the PBS station finder to obtain the email address for your local affiliate.

Send them an email, and cc info[at]speakspeak[dot]org. A sample letter can be found in the comments section of this entry.

This is important.




Bush to PTC: Lay Off! (Sort of…)

Posted by Amanda Toering
January 28, 2005 @ 8:47 am
Filed under: General, FCC

From Broadcasting and Cable:

Calling himself a free speech advocate, President George W. Bush says that parents, not government, are the “first line of responsibility when it comes to protecting children from indecent TV programming. ‘They put an off button on the TV for a reason. Turn it off.”

But Bush did say there is a role for regulators. The government, can, “at times, not censor, but call to account programming that gets over the line.”

The President said that when he interviews a new FCC Chairman, he will ask where he thinks that line is, but later clarified that that was not a litmus test.

Asked for his take on legislation to increase fines, Bush quipped, “They’re going to collect a lot of money when some of these TV shows are still on.”

Read the article and interview transcript.




Wardrobe Malfunction Not a Laughing Matter

Posted by Amanda Toering
January 26, 2005 @ 2:36 pm
Filed under: General

Can’t spoof “wardrobe malfunctions” during Super Bowl commercials.

Someone might be offended.




More Cowering at PBS

Posted by Amanda Toering
January 26, 2005 @ 8:24 am
Filed under: Buster

PBS has decided not to distribute an animated kids’ show about bunnies because it features lesbian couples as auxilliary characters. The Bush Administration’s new education secretary, Margaret Spellings, criticized the episode of “Postcards of Buster,” saying that it should not have been made using Department of Ed funding.

“Many parents would not want their young children exposed to the lifestyles portrayed in the episode,” said Spellings in a letter to PBS CEO Pat Mitchell. Spellings also encouraged PBS to refund the federal money it had spent on producing the program.

According to the Associated Press, Spellings issued three additional “requests”:

She asked that her department’s seal or any statement linking the department to the show be removed. She asked PBS to notify its member stations of the nature of show so they could review it before airing it. And she asked for the refund “in the interest of avoiding embroiling the Ready-To-Learn program in a controversy that will only hurt” it.

SpeakSpeak encourages you to send letters of complaint to the Department of Ed and, again, to PBS for this namby-pamby kow-towing to the vocal minority. You will be able to do this from our site later today.

Read the full story here.




Broadcast Indecency Enforcement Act

Posted by Amanda Toering
January 25, 2005 @ 1:17 pm
Filed under: General, FCC

The proposed legislation to raise indecency fines was resurrected today. The maximum fine is $32,500 per incident.

The bill stalled last session, but is expected to pass this time after some retooling.

More later….




For the Umpteenth Time, Private Ryan Not Indecent!

Posted by Amanda Toering
January 24, 2005 @ 4:03 pm
Filed under: General

“A majority of U.S. communications regulators have voted to deny viewer complaints that ABC television stations violated indecency rules when they aired the movie “Saving Private Ryan” last November, an FCC official said on Monday.”

Entertainment News Article | Reuters.com




FCC Denies 36 of the PTC’s Indecency Complaints

Posted by Amanda Toering
January 24, 2005 @ 11:11 am
Filed under: General, FCC

The FCC has denied 36 indecency complaints made against various programs. Look for Bozell later today.

A list of the 36 denials can be found in the FCC’s smackdown.

Some favorites:

“Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me,'’ January 8, 2003, 8 p.m. EST: musical number during which the title character’s naked torso and genital area are blocked by objects, furniture, and, in one instance, by his hands. Later scenes include the use of the phrase “fat bastard,'’ and the word “testicles.'’
In another scene from this film, a male and a female character are in bed together, but no sexual or excretory organs or activities are depicted or discussed.

‘’Friends,'’ May 1, 2003, 8 p.m. EST:
a female character and her husband encounter the husband’s former girlfriend at a medical office. After a conversation concerning fertility treatment, the female character says that she has to go because she’s got “an invasive vaginal exam to get to.'’

“Run of the House,'’ October 23, 2003, 9 p.m. EST:
a female character teases her brother about dating a woman who looks like his mother and, after her brother and his girlfriend have been in the hot tub, tells him “I know what you’re doing.'’

“Scrubs,'’ November 13, 2003, 9:30 p.m. EST:
in one scene, there is a discussion among a male character, his fiancée, and her brother in which the male character antagonizes the brother by telling the fiancée he wants to “love her up and down and all around,'’ and that they should “go put some more of your footprints on the ceiling.'’ The brother reacts angrily, saying “that’s it you son of a bitch.'’ In another scene, a male doctor tells a female resident that he would rather listen to her “go on and on about the joys of
dolphin sex.'’

“Gilmore Girls,'’ November 18, 2003, 8 p.m. EST:
in one scene, a character’s grandfather reminisces about college pranks involving
nudity.




Where Do We Go from Here?

Posted by Amanda Toering
January 24, 2005 @ 10:42 am
Filed under: General

Now that FCC chair Michael Powell is the lamest of ducks, questions about the future of the FCC’s indecency enforcement abound. Powell has mentioned that acting as the potty-mouth police made him uncomfortable.

In the past, he decried the knee-jerk activism of the Parents Television Council’s members: “You’ll get an advocacy group that purports to speak for a huge audience — I don’t know how many members they have — and they will have their members write you, and their members have heard what that association tells them is the problem, and you’ll get a lot of postcards or you’ll get a lot of e-mails.”

Powell acted as if the indecency firestorm was brought on by a single boob flash and was the brainchild of organized advocacy groups.

Well, he’s right about that.

But what no one has brought to light is that the Parents Television Council started this movement with the support and at the urging of FCC commissioners.

Here’s an excerpt from a letter that (Democratic) Commissioner Michael Copps sent to PTC prez Brent Bozell in 2003, well before The Nipple made its appearance:


“I am, as you know, tremendously pleased with the work that you, the Parents Television Council and the other organizations that have joined with you, are doing in America’s battle against indecency on the public airwaves…. I look forward to continuing to work with you on all this, convinced as I am that the moment is at hand when the people’s righteous anger can be turned into a righteous policy against those who so flagrantly misuse their trust as stewards of the public airwaves.” (Commissioner Michael Copps, 2003)

And Martin, who has received the PTC’s fawning endorsement for the chairmanship, has been quite a friend to the PTC himself. During a speech to the National Association of Television Programming Executives in 2003 (also pre-nipple), Martin advocated using the FCC’s “bully pulpit” to persuade broadcasters to “re-think their approach to family-friendly programming.”

Martin is also fond of citing PTC “research,” and once did so in front of a Senate committee hearing on protecting children from bad TV. Martin is an advocate for “per-utterance” fines against broadcasters. He supports legislation that would create a tenfold increase the maximum indecency fine per incident.

Martin has downplayed notion of parental responsibility, stating that the FCC “plays an important role in protecting Americans, particularly children, from indecent programming.” And what about the V-chip, which is installed on every US television manufactured after 2000 and was mandated in order to help parents baby-sit their kids? No good, he says. “Few parents know about these technologies, and of those that do, fewer still can figure out how to make them work.”

Martin heads the short list for Powell’s replacement. A good friend of the administration, his current status as commissioner would make him exempt from Senate confirmation.

The nutshell?

The FCC helped start this battle. Two of its commissioners actively encouraged Brent Bozell to pursue indecency complaints, while the outgoing chairman summed up the PTC’s efforts as “spam.”

But as public opinion segues from dropped-jaw nipple-rage to a collective eye-roll over a pixilated cartoon baby butt, and as the leadership of the FCC changes, we ponder the future.

Where do we go from here?




The FCC needs a new image

Posted by Amanda Toering
January 24, 2005 @ 8:36 am
Filed under: General, FCC

“Something is definitely wrong in the U.S., which supposedly cherishes free speech and freedom of the press, when TV stations across the country were afraid to air ‘Saving Private Ryan,’ Steven Spielberg’s film depicting heroic GIs in World War II. It contained lots of cursing and violent scenes. The stations balked because they were terrified that they would be fined by the FCC.”

Jon Friedman’s Media Web




Los Angeles Times: FCC Finds Itself Up to Its Neck in Hot Issues

Posted by Amanda Toering
January 24, 2005 @ 8:25 am
Filed under: General, FCC

The FCC reports on the road ahead at the FCC:

FCC Up to Its Neck in Hot Issues




PTC on Powell

Posted by Amanda Toering
January 24, 2005 @ 8:20 am
Filed under: General, Right Watch, FCC

Brent Bozell speaks out on Powell’s resignation: While Powell led the FCC, “bestiality, masturbation, oral sex, anal sex and pedophilia became FCC-sanctioned topics on prime time network television.”

PTC Eager for New Leadership at FCC




Powell Was ‘Uncomfortable’ with Indecency Battle

Posted by Amanda Toering
January 22, 2005 @ 9:23 pm
Filed under: General, FCC

Powell tells the Washington Times** that he’s leaving “because regulating the content of television and radio programming clashed with his belief in free speech.” Story here .

[**The Washington Times is, of course, a slightly uncomfortable source.]

Unfortunately, the commonly accepted front-runner for the FCC chairmanship is Kevin J. Martin, Bush patron and friend of the PTC.

More on him soon….




Slow News Day Fun

Posted by Amanda Toering
January 22, 2005 @ 9:35 am
Filed under: Off-Topic

For the bibliophiles among us: The Morning News is sponsoring a Tournament of Books (”the Battle Royale of literary excellence”).




Ultra-Right Family Research Council on Michael Powell

Posted by Amanda Toering
January 21, 2005 @ 5:17 pm
Filed under: General

The Family Research Council sent an e-missive today about Michael Powell’s resignation. Text below.

“Michael Powell is announcing today that he will vacate his chair, or should we say hot seat, at the Federal Communications Commission. This presents a profound opportunity for the President to make an impact on our nation’s culture. The FCC enforces indecency law on broadcast television and radio, and during Powell’s tenure the FCC record on enforcement was mixed at best. When we first approached Michael Powell early on in the Bush Administration about cleaning up the flood of illegal material on radio and television, he gave us little hope that he would. But broadcasters overstepped even Powell’s tolerance level for indecency with the Janet Jackson Superbowl “wardrobe malfunction” and rock singer Bono’s use of the f-word during a televised music awards ceremony. Powell began to lead an effort among FCC commissioners to enforce the law. President Bush should find someone who understands the powerful and negative impact of media on our nation’s children - someone who will vigorously enforce indecency laws.

To get a better feel for the FRC, visit People for the American Way




Posted by Amanda Toering
January 21, 2005 @ 4:28 pm
Filed under: General

Fox decides against airing Super Bowl on an obscenity-proof five-second delay.

Nation hopes to be spared a Paul McCartney wardrobe malfunction.

In USA Today.




Bochco Says TV Climate Too Conservative

Posted by Amanda Toering
January 21, 2005 @ 4:22 pm
Filed under: General

“I don’t think today we could launch or sell a show like ‘NYPD Blue,”‘ Says Steven Bochco, creator of NYPD Blue. “So you stop doing them,” he said. “It’s a setback.”

Read it




The Future Post-Powell?

Posted by Amanda Toering
January 21, 2005 @ 1:40 pm
Filed under: General

Alternet has published an interesting analysis of the Powell era from various reliable sources: AlterNet.




China Battles Its Own “Smut War”

Posted by Amanda Toering
January 21, 2005 @ 11:28 am
Filed under: General, Obscene!

“An unremitting battle against pornographic and illegal publications will continue to safeguard a healthy cultural environment”

Read it in the China Daily News.




When Freedom Becomes an F-Word

Posted by Amanda Toering
January 21, 2005 @ 7:02 am
Filed under: General

“Indeed, the networks have noticed that they have less freedom and that, in addition to answering to their customers, they must also pander to increasingly strict government censors. Freedom of thought, content, and speech is constrained in countries like Saudi Arabia or even China, but this is not the type of thing one expects in freedom-loving America. A country that prides itself on freedom of the individual now finds itself in a situation where networks preemptively censor themselves for fear of the government indecency patrol.”

In TechNewsWorld




MSNBC - FCC chairman to resign Friday, CNBC confirms

Posted by Amanda Toering
January 21, 2005 @ 6:57 am
Filed under: General, FCC

FCC chair Michael Powell is expected to resign today.

The appointment of his replacement will certainly have an effect on the battle over obscenity.

Strap on your helments.

MSNBC - FCC chairman to resign Friday, CNBC confirms




PBS Update: “We’re Not Cutting Scenes. Really!”

Posted by Amanda Toering
January 20, 2005 @ 2:45 pm
Filed under: General, SpeakSpeak, Action

PBS press release, via TV Barn.

SpeakSpeak members have sent over 100 letters to PBS execs. Haven’t sent yours yet? Do it now.




Paris Hilton Dirties the Airwaves

Posted by Amanda Toering
January 20, 2005 @ 2:37 pm
Filed under: General, FCC

Paris dropped an F-bomb last Friday while playing with a NJ fire dispatcher’s radio.

Turns out that’s a violation of FCC obscenity regs.

Who wants to start a pool on when the PTC will complain, how many complaints the FCC will receive, and when they’ll initiate an investigation?

Story here.




NFL Bone-Cracking, Head-Bashing, High-Kicking No Longer Fun for the Family

Posted by Amanda Toering
January 20, 2005 @ 2:24 pm
Filed under: General, Obscene!, Right Watch, PTC

According to the Alexandria, LA, Town Talk, the NFL has a recommendation: “If a slut shows up to tempt you during work hours, forget your responsibilities to your employer and your fellow employees, and have at it. Go for personal fulfillment.”

The NFL ain’t just clean family fun anymore, now that they’ve gone and added all that nasty sexual innuendo to the family-safe violence.

And don’t even think about accusing concerned parents of hypocrisy (because, you know, those cheerleaders have been around for a while and they’re pretty sexy…).

“Trying this line of attack,” says Brent Bozell, founder of the Parents Television Council, “is a little like yelling at Weight Watchers to lay off their lose-weight message because their clients are already fat.”

???

Op-Ed here.




Why We Have Remotes

Posted by Amanda Toering
January 20, 2005 @ 2:12 pm
Filed under: General, Right Watch, PTC

In addition to their FCC campaign, the PTC is dog-piling a Missouri CBS affiliate for airing the Without a Trace “orgy.”

Says the CBS rep:

“If you’re upset about that, that’s why we have remotes.”

Read about it.

By the way, if you missed the orgy, the PTC has graciously provided a clip on its website.