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Protecting Our Children

Requests for decency are getting results

By JoAnn Hamilton
May 26, 2006

Public concerns are finally being listened to by the Federal Communications Commission -- by program advertisers and by many store owners. Yes, we have a long way to go to restore decency to the children in America, but there is progress and will continue to be as long as people take time to politely make requests for it.  


According to the Parents Television Council (PTC), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued fines totaling nearly $4 million against broadcasters who aired indecent material between February 2002 and March 2005. Most of the fines, $3.6 million, were assessed to 111 CBS affiliates that re-aired an indecent episode of "Without a Trace." The FCC upheld its fine of CBS affiliates for Janet Jackson's indecent exposure during the 2004 Super Bowl halftime program.


FCC punishments are citizen-initiated. The FCC only fines media that receive complaints. This standard will mean it is more important than ever for families who feel their community standards of decency have been violated to file complaints with the FCC.


NBC affiliates run "Las Vegas" episodes on Friday nights. The Parents Television Council reports, "NBC continues to turn up the filth-meter on its seamy sex-obsessed show ‘Las Vegas.' In a recent episode, the topic was massages, or rather sex and massages. The script was full of foul innuendo and raunchy sexual references. All of this aired at a time when millions of children were in the viewing audience ( 9 ET , Friday), and during the ‘family hour' in the Central and Mountain time zones. According to Nielsen Media Research approximately one half million children, ages 2 to 17, saw this raunchy episode!"


The "Las Vegas" program included sordid scenes, which I won't go into. I will join them in recommending that you file an FCC Complaint. Simply go to www.ParentsTV.org and use the convenient FCC complaint form there.


I recommend that we all send a letter to the programming director at NBC affiliates objecting to "Las Vegas" episodes shown in your area.


Youth and adults today need to work together in positive ways toward establishing decency as an option in our communities. One teen who did just that is Stephanie Alves, an 18-year-old in Boston, Massachusetts. She grew tired of listening to radio stations playing degrading music, and she decided to do something positive about it. With other teen girls, she approached Boston 's mayor to suggest a radio station dedicated to the positive portrayal of women. The mayor then gained the support of women working in Boston media, and the positive, teen-friendly radio station became a reality.


The lesson here is that we can all make a difference by acting in positive and creative ways to assure appropriate media for youth.


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