A former broadcaster’s video mocking agency for its indecency policy has already had nearly 17,000 downloads on YouTube.com.
The viral power of the Web can be used for more than just selling ads, a Hollywood-based radio promotional firm is finding.
An irreverent video poking fun at the FCC’s indecency policy is spreading quickly through e-mails and blogs, helping to raise awareness about an issue that, according to its author, threatens the future of broadcasting.
FCC FU: The Anthem, a 21st century broadside written by former broadcaster Paul Fey and sung a by a full chorus, has been streamed nearly 17,000 times on YouTube.com.
The R-rated music video, which scolds the FCC to the tune of My Country “Ã‹Å“Tis of Thee, urges viewers to visit FCCFU.com, which aggregates news on broadcast indecency and sells FCC FU merchandise, the proceeds from which will be donated to organizations such as TVWatch.org and the National Coalition Against Censorship.
Fey is president and chief creative officer of World Wide Wadio, a producer of audio promos and spots and marketing podcasts for a long list of clients including the major broadcast and cable networks.
Fey, who worked at CBS’s KMOX-TV St. Louis (now Belo’s KMOV), conceived the video out of frustration, which boiled over when Howard Stern announced he was leaving commercial radio for subscription-based Sirius. Fey felt the FCC’s indecency regulations were chilling creativity on both the programming and the promotional sides of broadcasting.
“I found it appalling and I felt this could impact my industry and my livelihood,” said Fey. “I just found myself penning the lyrics to the song in my brain and was really happy with what came out. It just flowed.”
The lyrics sat in his desk drawer for months, until a few friends he had sent it to encouraged him to make it public. A couple of staffers in his office helped produce the simple video, shortening it slightly for YouTube.com consumption.
So far the only promotion World Wide Wadio has done for the video is e-mail it to about 300 industry friends and contacts. Fey also submitted a copy to The Howard Stern Show, although it hasn’t run yet.
So far the feedback has been “99% positive,” he says.
“We were initially concerned there would be a backlash from some of our broadcast or cable network clients, but in the month that has passed since we begun working on this the networks have actually turned around and are suing the FCC,” said Fey. “We hear it’s been spread around a lot among industry folks and that they have enjoyed it.”
The FCC FU video is not World Wide Wadio’s first swipe at the FCC. TBS hired the firm to write radio promos for its syndicated launch of Sex and the City in 2004, during the aftermath of the Janet Jackson fiasco.
“Stations were very nervous about what they could and could not air, partly because there was such a lack of clear rules,” said Fey.
Its answer was Fey’s spot entitled Heavy Fines, which won a $5,000 Radio-Mercury award in 2005. It featured an announcer trying to describe the show to the audience being constantly interrupted by an FCC official (voiced by personality Ben Stein).