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Jolly Offline OP
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From today's news:


Senator: Decency Rules Should Apply to Pay TV, Radio

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Ted Stevens said on Tuesday he would push for applying broadcast decency standards to cable television and subscription satellite TV and radio.

"Cable is a much greater violator in the indecency area," the Alaska Republican told the National Association of Broadcasters, which represents most local television and radio affiliates. "I think we have the same power to deal with cable as over-the-air" broadcasters.

"There has to be some standard of decency," he said. But he also cautioned that "No one wants censorship."

Stevens told reporters afterward that he would push legislation to apply the standards to cable TV and satellite radio and television. It could become part of a pending bill to boost fines on broadcasters who violate indecency restrictions or of an effort to overhaul U.S. communications laws.


If Stevens is successful, it could pose new problems for raunchy radio host Howard Stern, who has said he was forced to leave broadcast radio for satellite radio to avoid decency limits -- and Federal Communications Commission fines.


So far the restrictions have not applied to subscription services offered by companies like cable TV operators Comcast Corp. and Time Warner Inc. or XM Satellite Radio Holdings Inc. and Sirius Satellite Radio Inc., which recently signed Stern.


Last year the Senate Commerce Committee narrowly defeated an amendment to a bill boosting fines for indecency that would have extended such limits to cable and satellite services.


Sen. George Allen, a Commerce Committee member and Virginia Republican, told reporters he would be "hesitant to expand it to those" services.


While lawmakers and some parents groups are anxious to wipe the airwaves clean of indecency after singer Janet Jackson bared her breast last year during the Super Bowl halftime show, President Bush has said parents are the first line of defense and can just "turn it off."


Federal regulations bar broadcast television and radio stations from airing obscene material and restrict indecent material, such as sexually explicit discussions or profanity, to late-night hours when children are less likely to be watching or listening.


Stevens said he disagreed "violently" with assertions by the cable industry that Congress does not have the authority to impose limits on its content.


"If that's the issue they want to take on, we'll take it on and let the Supreme Court decide," he said.


A spokesman for the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, which represents cable operators, was not immediately available for comment.


The U.S. House of Representatives has approved legislation to raise fines to $500,000 from $32,500 on television and radio broadcasters that violate indecency limits. The Senate has legislation pending to increase fines as well.


But neither bill has provisions that would extend indecency restrictions to cable and satellite services. So far the White House has expressed support for the House bill, and made no public pronouncement about the Senate measure.


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Why is censorship so important to some people?

Why do they want to impost their ideas of what is OK to see and what is not OK on the rest of us?

Why can't they allow people to take responsibility for their own lives -- and change the channel if they want?

We already have TV ratings. We already of the v-chip. What more do we need to control what comes into our homes?

Apparently the fact that millions are watching these shows upsets the moral arbiters of our times and they want to stop people from exercising their right to see what they want and and they don't trust the people to exercise their responsibility to take control of what they see.

Why is this?

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It's the nanny state. Both parties want in on it. :rolleyes:


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I wouldn't worry to much, RZ, I think this was just a Senator playing to his base, in front of a friendly audience.

Not that the NAB is worried about 'decency standards' per se, in fact its just the opposite - they know that in a free market the government-censored broadcast channels can't compete with the far-less-censored HBO, etc. Perhaps the better remedy is to remove the restrictions from broadcast? If not, it seems to me, they'll continue their slow death.

Anyway, while I agree with your sentiment, I doubt even Senator Stevens thinks this is going anywhere.


If you don't talk to your children about equal temperment, who will?
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Jolly Offline OP
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Nobody has touched on the essential argument...not whether the government will regulate, but if the government has the power to regulate?


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Keep my porn and sports coming in steadily, and I don't care what they censor. I agree thumb

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Ha! Simple Americans! Do you actually believe that you are free from political censorship while watching your "FOX News" and "CNN"?
Ha! You infidels! You can't be trusted to form an opinion, you gullible fools! With such a foolish population, I'm not surprised that your country is a violent mess!

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Jolly Offline OP
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Quote
Originally posted by yhabpo:
Ha! Simple Americans! Do you actually believe that you are free from political censorship while watching your "FOX News" and "CNN"?
Ha! You infidels! You can't be trusted to form an opinion, you gullible fools! With such a foolish population, I'm not surprised that your country is a violent mess!
Ha! Simple troll! Do you not know that the essence of this argument is not political control?


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Quote
Originally posted by Jolly:
Nobody has touched on the essential argument...not whether the government will regulate, but if the government has the power to regulate?
Sorry, Jolly, I should have been more explicit. It seems so obvious to me that the first amendment will prevail (since these are subscription channels) I didn't bother to state it explicitly. When I said that I suspect Senator Stevens even knows its not going anywhere, thats what I meant.


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Plus the Senator was probably just fishing for contributions. I'm sure many of the people in the room had to write a check to get him to come speak anyway.


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Quote
Originally posted by Jolly:
Quote
Originally posted by yhabpo:
[b] Ha! Simple Americans! Do you actually believe that you are free from political censorship while watching your "FOX News" and "CNN"?
Ha! You infidels! You can't be trusted to form an opinion, you gullible fools! With such a foolish population, I'm not surprised that your country is a violent mess!
Ha! Simple troll! Do you not know that the essence of this argument is not political control? [/b]
Ha! Simple American! Can't you understand the true light that I am allowing you to see?

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I don't see that government censorship of that particular subscription content could ever pass the Supreme Court's two second test of "compelling government interest, and narrowly crafted law".

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Quote
Originally posted by jon-nyc:
I wouldn't worry to much, RZ, I think this was just a Senator playing to his base, in front of a friendly audience.
I would hope so. But after the Janet Jackson broohaha and the fines that were levied and regulations adopted, I am not so sure.

Regulating the cable industry has been on the table for a long time. They really want to do this. They want to control all of the television content.

This is also just part of a package. This is not the only area they want to control and censor. They keep trying to find the way to regulate the content on the Internet. They want to regulate the content of books in libraries. They want to regulate what is shown in art museums. They want to regulate what is taught in universities.

Interesting that none of their desire to regulate ever deals with anything but off-color words and sex.

The groups who want to regulate all of this have recently gained significant political power. Part of their rhetoric is to attack television and "Hollywood" as destroying the society. It's a recurring theme. Do you think they don't mean it? Or are not creating a voting block that wants this?

Since Janet Jackson they have put a pall over broadcast media with their investigations, fines and regilatory enforcement. Now they want to move to cable. All in the name of traditional values and not undermining the morals of the society.

Why can't they trust us to make our own decisions?

Why can't they leave us alone?

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Jolly Offline OP
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Because they own the airwaves.

The Senator is right on that part of his argument, and he knows it. Cable falls under the telecommunication law, and an easy case for broadcast law could be transferred to satellite feed.

Even if you're paying for it.....


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I don't see that the information coming over the cable feed to be significantly different if it goes to my computer or my TV...that is just an interface. How do you regulate one without regulating the other? How do you regulate the www?


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Quote
Originally posted by Jolly:
Because they own the airwaves.
Well, no, actually.

From the FCC\'s website
Quote
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is an independent United States government agency, directly responsible to Congress. The FCC was established by the Communications Act of 1934 and is charged with regulating interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite and cable. The FCC's jurisdiction covers the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. possessions.
From the Telecommunications Act of 1934
Quote
SEC. 1. ø47 U.S.C. 151¿ PURPOSES OF ACT, CREATION OF FEDERAL
COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION.
For the purpose of regulating interstate and foreign commerce
in communication by wire and radio so as to make available, so far
as possible, to all the people of the United States, without discrimination
on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, or sex,
a rapid, efficient, Nation-wide, and world-wide wire and radio communication
service with adequate facilities at reasonable charges,
for the purpose of the national defense, for the purpose of promoting
safety of life and property through the use of wire and radio
communication, and for the purpose of securing a more effective
execution of this policy by centralizing authority heretofore granted
by law to several agencies and by granting additional authority
with respect to interstate and foreign commerce in wire and radio
communication, there is hereby created a commission to be known
as the ‘‘Federal Communications Commission,’’ which shall be constituted
as hereinafter provided, and which shall execute and enforce
the provisions of this Act.
From an interview with Commissioner Copps

Quote
I go around and talk to them a lot. But less and less are they captains of their own fate. And more and more are they victims of this kind of bottom line quarterly report mentality. And I understand that. I mean, I understand they live in a commercial culture and a business culture. But this is a special industry with a special charge administering the public airwaves. Nobody owns these airwaves. There's no TV company or radio company that owns the airwaves. The people of the United States of America own the airwaves.
The airwaves are owned by the citizens, and through a delegation of authority through Congress to the FCC, administered on our behalf. Which brings in that wonderful sentence beginning with "Congress shall make no law ..." and so on with other happy phrases. So just as I can buy a newspaper with words in it that others don't like, I can subscribe to a communications channel with similar content.

If the Senator thinks he's on firm ground, he might check his grip on reality.

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Jolly Offline OP
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The people own the airwaves, but who makes the law?

Possession is still 9/10s, is it not?


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The best thing about the WWW is that it is democratic, in other words the content is in control of the people. Nobody is censoring what I am writing right now and I can write any d@mn thing I want. Well, almost anything, Frank can kick me out since this is his place. But I can write anything I want on my own website. To me, this is the true power and revolutionary nature of the web -- it's not broadcast, it's one individual voice capable of reaching every other individual on the planet.

There are people who want to view very graphic violence and they call it entertainment. Well, that's their business I guess. And there are others that want to watch very sexually explicit material. I guess that's their business. President Bush said it best that the parents can shut the cr@p off if they don't like it.

It will be truly scary if the legislation requires all switches/routers on the internet to carry software that scans for certain verbage and disallows it.

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Nobody "owns" the airwaves, because there is no such thing to own. There are radio frequencies, to be sure, but they are no different than any other frequencies. Who owns A-440? Radio frequencies also have no respect for any terrestrial borders, thus any attempt to regulate broadcast content is going to be piecemeal. Why else would there be satellite dishes all over the world hoping to tap into broadcasts that vary from individual countries' broadcast standards?

The FCC is an oversight organization among whose original charges was to limit the interference of one broadcasters' transmissions on those of another through the assignment of broadcast frequencies. In order to retain its frequency license, a broadcaster agrees to meet certain standards.

The extension of broadcast standards to subscription services is illogical. It would, in effect, be the same as enforcing standards between the two parties of a telephone conversation, or controlling the contents of an e-mail list. I'd venture that the act of subscription constitutes an implicit agreement by the subscriber to the content being provided, just as with any subscription to printed matter.


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Jolly Offline OP
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But aren't cable companies fees regulated by governemnetal agencies? Do not their cables hang, or are buried on publicly granted right-of-ways?

And if the governemnt has the authority to regulate a radio wave, or a broadcast television wave, do they have the right to regulate a satellite microwave?


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