Monday, May 15, 2006

American TV - a land of contrasts.

In case you are not quite convinced that the Christian Right is powerful on the Hill, read this:
Responding to pressure from conservative groups, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist is attempting to jump-start legislation that would impose a tenfold increase on fines for indecent broadcasts, congressional and industry sources said.
This push comes from Conservative Christian groups like the American Family Assn., headed by the Rev. Donald Wildmon.

Some people who watch American shows on a regular basis may be surprised by the free approach of some fictions while so much fuss is made about "indecency". Well, that's because the US is a land of contrasts. But on a more practical level, here's the explanation for why this contrast is particularly visible on tv:
  • While obscene speech has no constitutional protection, indecent speech does. It can be aired from 10 p.m.-6 a.m., when few children are in the audience. (On June 26, 1997, the Supreme Court upheld a lower court's decision, stating that the indecency provisions were an unconstitutional abridgement of the First Amendment right to free speech because they did not permit parents to decide for themselves what material was acceptable for their children).
  • The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulates "indecent" free-to-air but their rulings do not apply to cable TV networks, allowing greater freedom in the use of language, nudity, and violence. (since cable TV channels cannot be viewed by those (e.g., children) without the proper equipment).

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