Well folks, another uneventful Super Bowl halftime show has passed us by, and not even the Parents Television Council had the strength to imagineer lewd messages from Prince's sultry guitar-as-an-extension-of-the-penis shadow dance. But alas, federally-regulated indecency hasn't disappeared from the headlines.
As if the FCC's hands weren't full enough: they've got a huge backlog of pending indecency complaints and a continuing federal appeals case that could nix their current policy on fleeting profanity. It appears that they'd also like to rope cable into their anti-indecency regime, force a-la-carte programming packages on the cable industry, and also regulate violence on television.
Someone on the inside leaked information to the Associated Press concerning a draft FCC report that examines the effects of violent programming on children and presents an argument for regulating cable. The study, which has yet to be released, suggests that the FCC is capable of regulating violence on TV in a way that would not interfere with the First Amendment. Riiiight. No gray area there. The commission will likely recommend that Congress expand their power to censor TV content beyond obscene and indecent material.
While I'd much rather live in a country that regulated violence on TV rather than indecency, I'm pushing for none of the above. Seriously, look who's going to carry out this task. I have zero faith that the FCC won't bungle violence complaints in the same way that they've blurred the line with indecency. And I believe that the consequences (watered-down news and documentaries) outweigh the benefits (added help for parents who can't figure out how to turn off the TV when they encounter something inappropriate for their children).
The FCC's recommendations to Congress have yet to be seen, but I'm guessing that the cable lobby is going to campaign heavily against this.