December 3, 2005

Columbus, OH, Radio Station Drops Stern

Posted by Amanda Toering
September 1, 2005 @ 3:00 pm
Filed under: Indecency

From FMQB:

The noose keeps getting tighter around Howard Stern’s radio empire as WBZX (The Blitz)/Columbus becomes the latest station to drop The King Of All Media’s syndicated morning program, citing an FCC investigation “relating to four separate incidents in which The Blitz allegedly broadcast indecent material contained in The Howard Stern Show.”

News of the investigation at WBZX comes just over a week after it was revealed that the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau was looking into an early February broadcast in which allegedly indecent material was aired on Beasley Broadcast Group’s WRXK/Ft. Myers and Infinity Broadcasting’s WXRK/New York. The FCC investigations come less than a month after the hiring of Penny Nance as an advisor. At the time of her hiring, there was some speculation that Nance, a lobbyist for conservative Christian organizations, would heat up an apparently stalled “war on broadcast indecency.”

PD Hal Fish made the announcement today that Stern’s run had ended in Columbus, stating: “Ever since Howard Stern announced that he was leaving for satellite radio, we have known this day would come. Despite that, it’s not without a certain degree of sadness that today was the final broadcast of The Howard Stern Show on 99.7 The Blitz. North American Broadcasting Company, the company that owns The Blitz, is currently cooperating with the FCC in response to a Notice Of Inquiry relating to four separate incidents in which The Blitz allegedly broadcast indecent material contained in The Howard Stern Show. The people who advise our company about such matters believe the incidents place our station and license at risk. As a result, effective today, The Blitz will no longer broadcast The Howard Stern Show.”

Fish followed the company statement with a personal note, saying, “It’s been a gas. It’s been a pleasure being associated with The Stern Show. It would have been great if he could have faded into the sunset and headed to satellite at the end of the year. Quite frankly, I think it was highly unlikely he would have made it to the end of the year anyway.”

Stern begins his run on Sirius satellite radio late this month.


Use a Signature in Your Emails? Beware.

Posted by Amanda Toering
September 1, 2005 @ 12:51 pm
Filed under: Free Speech?

I’ve just received this email from an online acquaintance.

It’s been edited for capitalization, and to remove identifying information.

My Visit from the Joint Terrorism Task Force

Holy crap! I was sitting in my jeep eating a burger today when I got a call on my cell from a US Marshal. He indicated he was at my residence and needed to ask some questions regarding something I “had put on the internet”, and when would I be home? So I buzzed on home, roiling inside and wondering WTF was going on.

There were two suits sitting there waiting for me. One a US Marshal, one a detective from the county’s “Joint Terrorism Task Force.”

Well, it turns out the problem was my email sig. For almost two years, it has consisted of a 64×64 .jpg of me playing my guitar with the legend “WARNING: I have weapons of mass destruction and I’m not afraid to use them.”

Yes, I recently forwarded one of those email jokes to some folks, who apparently forwarded it to others, and somewhere along the line the image was stripped off, and some good citizen felt compelled to report this dire threat! They wanted to know if I owned any weapons, if I had a chemistry degree, whether I knew how to make or had access to explosives, etc.

After I showed them the complete sig, including the image, and explained it was a wry reference to my meager guitar skills, they sternly lectured me to change the wording, and departed.

Forget joking about explosive devices while waiting in line at the airport.

It’s no longer okay to joke about the nonexistent weapons of mass destruction from the privacy of your own home, within private communications.

Let this be a lesson to you.

Oh, and the signature now reads:

** R E D A C T E D **
I have REDACTED of mass
REDACTED and I am not
afraid to REDACTED them…

The new new signature reads:

I like fuzzy kittens,
cute little bunnies, and fawn
pugs with curly tails…


Cable TV Consolidation? Say No

Posted by Eric Jaffa
September 1, 2005 @ 12:48 pm
Filed under: Cable/Satellite, Government, Media Watch

From an email from Common Cause:

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is considering whether it should allow big cable companies to get even bigger. According to the Consumer Electronics Association nearly ninety percent of U.S. homes receive their television via cable or satellite.

Cable companies are already too big, too greedy and too focused on their bottom lines to care whether the American public gets the diversity of programming and information it needs to participate in public life. We need to send a strong message to the FCC today and let them know that they should not allow cable companies to get any larger. We need the FCC to uphold the current rules that ensure a cable company cannot own more than 30 percent of the nationwide market share. Email the FCC today by clicking on the following link:

… Thank you again for all you do to protect our democracy.


Chellie Pingree
President & CEO, Common Cause

1 Comment

When Is a Glass Slipper Not a Glass Slipper?

Posted by Amanda Toering
September 1, 2005 @ 12:16 pm
Filed under: Ban It!

The Latvian National Opera company has been forbidden from performing its staging of Prokofiev’s classic “Cinderella” ballet.

The Latvians updated the classic story, with which we’re all familiar, by changing its setting from Cinderella’s castle to Cinderella’s brothel. The managers of composer Prokofiev’s estate were fit to be tied — and not in the whorehouse sense.

Reports the BBC:

“There was a huge gap between the original music and the new story,” said Noelle Mann, curator of the Sergei Prokofiev Archive.

But the opera company said it was “a very beautiful and sincere story”.

The ballet had been performed twice before receiving the hook.

For its part, the Latvian National Opera says it is “willing to continue the dialogue with the Prokofiev Foundation to find a compromise in this situation so that the audience is not deprived of seeing this beautiful ballet again.”

1 Comment

Houston MediaSource Update

Posted by Amanda Toering
September 1, 2005 @ 12:02 pm
Filed under: Free Speech?

Houston MediaSource, The Big Humid’s local cable access channel, made news earlier this summer when a couple of strait-laced city council members were offended by content it aired after 2 a.m.

Yesterday, the Houston City Council voted to replace 8 of MediaSource’s 15 board members. The terms of those 8 board members expired at the end of last year.

The Council is scheduled to vote next week on whether to renew the channel’s contract with the city, a vote it has repeatedly delayed.

From the Houston Chronicle:

The newly composed board must deal with two months of controversy over the channel airing a few programs earlier this summer that had nudity and profanity.

The council repeatedly has delayed the renewal of MediaSource’s $800,000 contract, which the panel is set to consider next week.

The programs also sparked a debate about whether the city could regulate the channel’s content without inviting First Amendment lawsuits.

In response, Mayor Bill White proposed shaking up the board with new members who could offer fresh ideas.

Councilwoman Shelley Sekula-Gibbs called the new board “a whitewash” that would do little to change the underlying issue: questions about content on the channel.

“I don’t see this as any real change,” she said, casting a “no” vote.

“That’s not really what the citizens of Houston deserve.”

Councilwoman Addie Wiseman, who first raised the issue and has been the channel’s chief critic, voted for the new board members.

“I’m looking forward to seeing what they can do when they all get together,” she said.

“I’m willing to give them a chance.”

Wiseman also has submitted a plan to amend the nonprofit’s contract with the city, which spends fees collected by cable users to provide the channel.

She said the changes would offer safeguards to keep “obscene” material off the air.


OKC Library Puts Gay-Themed Kids’ Books Off-Limits

Posted by Amanda Toering
September 1, 2005 @ 11:49 am
Filed under: Libraries

Remember the battle in Oklahoma over “gay-themed” kids’ books — that is, books aimed at helping kids of gay parents understand that they’re an acceptable part of society? (See here, here , here , here and here.)

The Oklahoma City library commission voted last week to permanently move those books to an area of the library accessible only to adults.

From PrideSource:

After a complaint about children’s books with homosexual content, a library commission has decided to place youth material of a “sensitive nature” in a special collection in the adult section.

Members of the Metropolitan Library Commission voted 10-7 Aug. 25 to place children’s books dealing with “sensitive or controversial topics” into a special collection that only will be accessible by “adults in authority.”

Specific books criticized were “King & King,” “Daddy’s Roommate,” “The Duke Who Outlawed Jelly Beans” and “Heather Has Two Mommies.”

The OKC Library has yet to install the black “Adults Only” curtain between Dewey Decimal call numbers 216.00 and 234.00.


In other news, the American Library Association reports that challenges to library books have risen by 20% in the past year.


As the World Turns: Bollywood Hijinks

Posted by Amanda Toering
September 1, 2005 @ 11:32 am
Filed under: CensorWorld

The long-running (and intensifying) battle between India’s film directors and India’s censorship board brings us yet another melodramatic offering.

This, from the New Kerala:

Controversial Tamil film “New” continues to be mired in problems over charges of obscenity that have caused a sensation in the Tamil film industry.

Actor-director S.J. Suryah and his film earned some respite from the Supreme Court that Tuesday stayed a Madras High Court order to revoke the censor board approval for the film.

But the outcome of the case is being eagerly awaited by an industry that has often toed the thin line between art and obscenity on celluloid.

Released in July 2004, the film was a hit with campus audiences of both sexes.

Women’s groups here protested against the film and the All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) took the matter to the high court demanding that the Central Board of Film Certification (censor board) clearance to the movie be revoked.

The high court agreed. On Aug 5, it directed the board to revoke certification for “New” after expressing concern over “vulgarity” in the film about an eight-year-old boy who in his dreams at night is transformed into a 28-year-old young man.

Suryah was arrested last week for misbehaving with a woman official of the censor board and released on bail. He was accused of throwing a mobile phone at Vanathy Srinivasan after she refused to allow an objectionable song in his film.

Srinivasan lodged a police complaint and a court issued a non-bailable warrant against the director. Suryah has been asked by the court to appear before the police daily at 10 a.m. until the next hearing on Sep 6.

In the Supreme Court, the petitioners contended that the film was in the realm of fantasy and should not be construed as obscene.

The apex court, staying the high court order of Aug 5, said the board certification could not be revoked. At best, the high court could order deletion of certain objectionable portions, he said.


Anarchy Hurt Feelings in the UK

Posted by Amanda Toering
September 1, 2005 @ 11:27 am
Filed under: Obscene!

Yesterday we told you about Britain’s Advertising Standards Authority decision to pull a banking commercial because it offended allergy sufferers.

Today’s offended segment of the British populace: Husbands.

From the BBC:

The BBC has issued an apology over the programme Bring Your Husband to Heel after receiving complaints it was sexist towards men.

The BBC Two show featured dog trainer Annie Clayton using her techniques to teach women how to modify their husbands’ behaviour.

The corporation said the show “plays on the long-standing stereotype of wives nagging husbands about their failings”.

But it accepted that some viewers found the programme “inappropriate”.

Viewers complained to the BBC by telephone and on the Points of View website, with one viewer calling it “insulting to men and insulting the intelligence of women”.

Another called the programme “sexist, degrading, insulting drivel”.

The Beeb goes on to describe the program as one that taught women how to deal with the usual husband problems — computer addiction, lackadaisical chore-mongering, etc. The Beeb defends the concept of the show, saying it was a “unique method of instruction” for dealing with problems that many people face.


Motion Picture Association = World Police?

Posted by Eric Jaffa
September 1, 2005 @ 10:31 am
Filed under: Government, Bizarre

From the Internet Movie Database:

MPA Given Free Hand to Hunt Pirates in New Delhi

A month-old report that originally appeared in the Hollywood Reporter that authorities in India had granted a search and seize warrant on July 19th to the MPA, the international branch of the Motion Picture Association of America, to hunt for pirated films in New Delhi has suddenly received prominent attention in the Indian press. Chander Lall, a lawyer for the MPA in New Delhi, told the Associated Press that the organization had not publicized the warrant because “we did not want the pirates to know this is the order we have.” He declined to say whether any raids had actually been carried out. Indian filmmakers, who churn out more films annually than their counterparts in Hollywood, have reportedly been especially hard-hit by movie pirates and have made common cause with the MPA.

Seems like a blow to the national sovereignty of people in India.

If the officers say, “Open up, MPA,” and the homeowner doesn’t, can they knock the door down? Are they armed?