Geez, this political posturing on broadcast and cable indecency is really getting tiresome. You want censorship? Pass some laws already. And, if you're serious, it is possible to draft constitutional censorship laws, assuming the Supreme Court doesn't reverse Pacifica.
Now we have Reuters reporting that a senior member of Congress wants criminal penalties for broadcasting indecency (Lawmaker Wants Criminal Penalties for Indecency). This isn't just any old lawmaker, but the chairman of the US House Judiciary Committee, James Sensenbrenner (R - WI).
"People who are in flagrant disregard should face a criminal process rather than a regulatory process," the Wisconsin Republican said at the National Cable & Telecommunications Association annual convention.
"That way you aim the cannon specifically at the people who are committing the offenses," and not at everyone, he said. "The people who are trying to do the right thing end up being penalized the same way the people who are doing the wrong thing."
Although he wants to toss people in the slammer for broadcasting indecency, he doesn't believe in regulating indecency on cable, yet. In this way he is unlike some of his congressional colleagues, who are ticking off cable companies (oohhh, scary) LA Times
(Indecency Proposal Getting Static From Cable
). In fact, cable is so ticked off, they're pre-emptively censoring themselves:
Sources said that Roberts was considering not renewing "The Howard Stern Show" the videotaped version of the shock jock's rant-filled radio program when the contract expires this spring. The show, which helped put the E channel on the map, is still a ratings winner. But Roberts is worried that Stern, who has racked up more than $2 million in indecency fines for the nation's radio stations, could provoke unwanted scrutiny from Washington, especially if he gets even raunchier once he moves to satellite radio in January.
And more love from Disney
Several cable executives privately accuse Disney of urging [Sen.] Stevens to crack down on cable. They point to the close relationship Stevens has with Mitch Rose, his former chief of staff who is now a top Disney lobbyist.
Disney would not comment. But one Disney source, while acknowledging that Rose and Stevens talk frequently, said it was only fair to level the playing field now that most homes have cable.
"If a kid is sitting with a remote control that has 70 channels on the up and down buttons, how stupid is it that the indecency rules only apply to six or seven of them?" this executive said.
That executive is right. It is stupid to regulate only six or seven channels on the remote when there are dozens or more. Of course, no one seems to be saying the obvious, that the answer is to get rid of censorship entirely.
Read the whole, sordid mess.