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Reactions Cite ‘Chilling Effect,’ ‘Judicial Activism’ in Jackson Ruling

Jul 21, 2008  •  Post A Comment

Reaction came swiftly to an appellate court’s decision overturning the Federal Communications Commission’s fining of CBS stations in the Janet Jackson 2004 Super Bowl “wardrobe malfunction” incident.
Artists, broadcasters and some First Amendment groups praised the ruling, while advocates of an indecency clampdown ripped the decision and expressed dismay.
“Once again, a three-judge panel has hijacked the will of the American people … when it comes to indecent content on the public airwaves,” said Tim Winter, president of the Parents Television Council, which filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case. “The court’s opinion goes beyond judicial activism; it borders on judicial stupidity.”
The Center for Creative Voices, which represents artists and TV and film producers, said the original FCC ruling in the Jackson case and a second one had already had a “chilling effect” on broadcasters, “putting creative, challenging, controversial, non-homogenized broadcast television at risk.”
“Creative media artists understand the commission’s desire to address complaints, some well-founded, about television programming,” the center’s statement continued. “But the commission’s ‘cure’ is proving worse than the disease. It turns the commission, and the small group of determined activists who bombard it with canned indecency complaints, into the arbiters of what all Americans can watch in the privacy of their own homes.”
The National Association of Broadcasters said the ruling provided some needed “clarity” on the FCC’s actions.
“We’re pleased the courts are providing badly needed clarity on efforts to regulate broadcast content,” said Dennis Wharton, NAB’s executive VP of media relations. “Nonetheless, given the history and tradition of free broadcasting, we’re certain that our programming will remain less explicit than the fare offered on pay cable and satellite.”
FCC Chairman Kevin J. Martin said he was “surprised and … disappointed for families and parents” by the decision.
“The Super Bowl is one of the most watched shows on television, aired during the hours when children are most likely to be in the audience,” he said.
“Hundreds of thousands of people complained about the show, and a unanimous commission found that it was inappropriate for broadcast television.
“I continue to believe that this incident was inappropriate, and this only highlights the importance of the Supreme Court’s consideration of our indecency rules this fall,” Mr. Martin concluded.
(12:55 p.m.: Added reaction from Kevin J. Martin)

13 Comments

  1. Why not have a 5-second tape-delay, and if something like this, or Bon’s F-word bomb, happens again, it can simply be deleted by the network-no governent censorship and no micro-magaging of deeper content necessary.

  2. Great…..now more gangsta hoodlums will take to the air waves to see how far they can get. What’s next….an accidental showing of a p-ness?
    If it goes over well they’ll be cool ‘stars’ and another ‘perfect example’ for our kids to grow up emulating. If it doesn’t go over well….well….it was a tragic mistake.

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