Indecent

Jeff Jarvis reports that the FCC imposed a $1.2 million fine on Fox for the show “Married by America” after receiving complaints from just 23 individuals. And all but three of the complaints were automated “me too” copies.

Jeff points out that this isn’t just a problem with the FCC:

Note, too, that this is the most radical product of our culture of complaint, our society of offense, in which a few who don’t like something think they can — well, can — affect everyone else. The PC left does it; when was the last time you said “girl”? The religious right does it; they want to stop us from watching our TV shows and listening to our radio shows. Well, it’s time we fight back.

I agree that the FCC is going off the deep end when it comes to indecency enforcement these days, although I have some sympathy for the political “catch 22” the Commission finds itself in. If they weren’t being so aggressive, they would be taking even more heat from members of Congress.

The real problem here is that we maintain the quaint fiction that broadcasters serve the “public interest,” when what they are doing is running businesses, nothing more, nothing less. The only reason that fiction continues is that the broadcasters received their “scarce” spectrum licenses for free, along with other exceptionally valuable rights like mandatory retransmission on cable. Now that we know spectrum isn’t scarce, isn’t it time to end the charade?