The watchdog Parents Television Council-the group getting primary credit for spurring the Federal Communications Commission to fine Fox Broadcasting Co. and its affiliates a record $1.183 million in indecency fines last week-has emerged as the nation’s undisputed champion of indecency enforcement, generating more than 100,000 FCC complaints this year alone.
According to a spokesperson, the organization, originally founded in 1995, has 24 employees in offices in Los Angeles and Alexandria, Va., who monitor much of the programming that appears on TV, focusing mainly on prime-time schedules. When the group’s executives object to a program, they notify their almost 1 million members in an e-mail alert that permits members to automatically file a complaint with the FCC.
One recent e-mail alert about NBC’s “Father of the Pride,” according to the PTC, generated 11,113 e-mail complaints. “If you’ve got an energized base and the Internet, there’s no question that you can generate a gazillion complaints,” said one industry source, who asked not to be identified. “There’s no question [PTC has had] a major impact.”
According to the group’s Web site, parentstv.org, the group’s advisory board includes such entertainers as Tim Conway and Pat Boone and Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., who has been leading the charge for tougher indecency penalties on Capitol Hill.
“The FCC has become a puppet in the hands of giant media conglomerates, which daily fill our public airwaves with hour after hour of excrement,” says actor Dean Jones, another advisory board member, in the group’s annual report for last year.
In addition to generating indecency complaints, the group also campaigns to persuade advertisers to drop sponsorship for programming the group finds objectionable. “Because of the PTC, dozens of companies are pulling their ads from some of TV’s most offensive programs,” says L. Brent Bozell, PTC’s founder and president, in the group’s annual report.
In addition to his duties as PTC’s head, Mr. Bozell is also the founder and president of the Media Research Center, a self-described conservative group that monitors what it sees as the liberal bias of major news media organizations.
Kelly Walmsley, PTC’s spokesperson, said the group does not release the identities of its major donors. But according to the group’s annual report, organizations that contributed more than $5,000 to PTC last year included the Anschutz Foundation; the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation; Cly-Del Manufacturing Co.; the Covenant Foundation; the Dye-Knopf Fund of The Minneapolis Foundation; the Philip M. Friedmann Family Charitable Trust; the Hickory Foundation; the John E. and Sue M. Jackson Charitable Trust; the Dorothy D. and Joseph A. Moller Foundation; the Schloss Family Foundation; the Strake Foundation; the Stuart Family Foundation; the Bill & Katie Weaver Charitable Trust and the Gil & Dody Weaver Foundation.
PTC is required to list on its 990 IRS form any donors who contributed more than $80,000 during the year, according to the organization’s executive director Tim Winter. The Stuart Family Foundation is the only donor to contribute more than that amount, he said.
Juliana Shallcross contributed to this report.