In response to briefs filed with the Supreme Court, the watchdog Parents Television Council chastises ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox for “their resolve to shred any remaining boundaries for decency, paving the way for the harshest profanity and graphic sexual content to be aired in front of kids at any time of day.”
The Parents Television Council on Friday urged U.S. broadcast TV networks to “stop exploiting the benefits and ignoring the responsibilities of the public airwaves.” PTC’s response came after briefs were filed by ABC, Fox, CBS and NBC in a landmark TV decency case currently before the U.S. Supreme Court. The case involves so-called “fleeting” profanity on award shows and nudity on NYPD Blue.
“The broadcast television networks reap tens of billions of dollars each and every year from the cash cow that is the public airwaves,” said PTC President Tim Winter, “but they claim to be unfairly burdened by the smallest morsel of responsibility when it comes to waiting until 10 pm to air indecent content. The networks’ Supreme Court briefs make crystal clear their resolve to shred any remaining boundaries for decency, paving the way for the harshest profanity and graphic sexual content to be aired in front of kids at any time of day.”
“If the broadcast TV networks are really tired of living under different rules than cable or the Internet, then they should become cable or Internet companies,” Winter continued. “The networks could easily give up the half-trillion dollar spectrum owned by the public that they use for free, or they could start paying to use the airwaves like other spectrum users do.
“Because of the pervasive nature of the broadcast medium, requiring a certain level of responsibility isn’t just reasonable, it is required by a broadcast license. Content on the public airwaves is beamed directly into every home in the country in exchange for a promise to serve the public interest, convenience and necessity. If the networks want rights without responsibilities, they should become a pay service.
“How can the creative community possibility be suffering from a ‘chill’ on free speech when there are over 500 channels that are not subject to the indecency law? Nobody is telling Hollywood they can’t produce and distribute indecent content. They are simply required not to use the public airwaves during certain hours of the day to do it.
“We urge the Supreme Court to look through the smokescreen of the TV networks’ interest, and instead side with the public interest. If the Court agrees with broadcasters and tosses out the broadcast decency law, the reality is that pornography will be legal on the publicly-owned airwaves at any time of day,” Winter concluded.