Fox’s bleeping of comments made by presenters and winners during last night’s Emmy Awards — including Sally Field’s comment that if mother ruled there would be “no goddamn wars” — is drawing some fire.
At least in the early reaction, criticism is mostly being directed at the Federal Communications Commission for making the bleeping necessary.
Some groups involved in the Washington fight over the FCC’s crackdown on fleeting expletives said today that Fox’s bleeps of a joke by Ray Romano and reaction to winning comments by Ms. Field and Katherine Heigl exceeded what was necessary by the FCC rules but indicated the kind of real world problems and chilling impact implicit in the agency’s decision to begin imposing fines on TV stations that carry programming with profanity.
“The FCC grounded the Flying Nun,” said Marv Johnson, legislative counsel of the American Civil Liberties Union. “This is yet another example of the FCC acting as the nation’s nanny. Broadcasters are afraid to air anything that the FCC may consider indecent, even though the FCC itself can’t decide what is and is not indecent.”
Mr. Johnson said it is parents who should protect their children from objectionable words,
“The FCC’s inability to adequately define indecency demonstrates what President Bush said some time ago: Parents are the best ones to determine what their children hear and see on television.
“We don’t need five unelected bureaucrats deciding for millions of Americans what is seen and heard on television,” he added.
Andy Schwartzman, president-CEO of the Media Access Project, which has filed friend of the court briefs in challenges to the FCC crackdown, said the bleeping “is precisely the kind of overly defensive behavior which we warned about in our brief. Not only was some of the bleeping unnecessary from a legal standpoint, but it seems that [Fox] also deleted the video images for fear of offending the lip readers among us.”
FCC chairman Kevin J. Martin who had pushed the crackdown but gotten support from other commissioners did not respond to a request for comment.