Remarks Presented by Dan Isett of the PTC
at the News Conference Regarding the "Family
and Consumer Choice Act
June 14, 2007
morning, my name is Dan Isett and I am Director of Corporate and Government
Affairs for the Parents Television Council. We are an organization of more than
1 million members from all across the country whose mission it is to protect
children from sex, violence and profanity in entertainment.
year, Congress acted to increase the maximum possible fine for violation of
broadcast decency law, but the reaction from the entertainment industry was to
file suit, claiming that the s and the f words were appropriate to air during
prime time television, and that – of all things – a striptease in the middle of
the Super Bowl was somehow not indecent. Clearly, the entertainment industry
has lost its way, and is failing to live up to its legal obligation to broadcast
in the public interest.
week, the US Second Circuit Court of Appeals rendered a decision inexplicable to
Americans families: that the s and the f-word should be ok to be broadcast on
the public airwaves at hours when tens of millions of children are in the
audience. While we’re a long way from the end of the judicial process in that
case, and Congress may weigh in yet again, one thing is clear – if the
entertainment industry really wants to give parents “complete control” of their
televisions, as it says it does, then it would endorse the concept of cable
its decision, the court cited the growing areas of graphic content on cable as
justification for its ruling – but what about the millions of Americans who
choose not to take cable in order to avoid that type of programming?
Cable content is controlled by a handful of powerful media conglomerates who for
years have extorted money from subscribers by creating new channels, adding them
to expanded basic cable tiers, and forcing subscribers to pay for them – whether
they wanted those new channels or not. Because cable customers have no ability
to make a market-based decision, what consumers actually want has no bearing on
what programming costs. This results in subscription fees increasing at several
times the rate of inflation.
Cable subscribers pay on average nearly nine dollars a year for each cable
channel coming into their home -- $9.60 per year for MTV, $9.00 per year for FX,
and $7.20 per year for Comedy Central –multiplied by over 80 million cable
subscribers, and it quickly adds up to close to hundreds of millions of dollars
per year per network directly into the pockets of Viacom, News Corp, and other
media giants. What do cable subscribers get in return? – Here are just a couple
of examples from this week alone:
Last night Season 4 of
Rescue Me debuted on
the FX network. In addition to intensely graphic violence, incredibly explicit
sexual content and frequent obscene language, the previous three seasons have
featured four scenes depicting sexual violence, rape or sexual assault without
consequences either for the victim or the assailant. In one particularly
disturbing scene, after a heated argument with his ex-wife, the “hero” shoves
her onto the couch and rapes her. At first she fights him off, but in the
middle of the assault, she is shown to be enjoying the rape.
This weekend Comedy Central is airing the South
Park “Dirty Dozen” – the twelve “most foul-mouthed, filthiest and sexually
offensive episodes ever.” Including the episode that used the word “Sh*t” 162
times, an episode in which a character watches his father masturbate, and an
episode in which a teacher demonstrates to his elementary school class how to
insert a gerbil into a man’s rectum.
I have no problem with adults who make the affirmative choice to choose and pay
for content like this. The ultraviolent Sopranos finale on Sunday night enjoyed
a relatively large audience, and was only available to cable subscribers who
chose to take HBO. What’s at issue today is whether millions of cable
subscribers should be forced to pay for content like The Sopranos – which is now
being shown on the A&E network in the expanded basic tier – just to get access
to the quality family, news and sports programming that exists on cable.
Let’s be very clear: what is being proposed today is the creation of a free
market in cable programming which does not exist today.
commend Congressman Lipinski and Congressman Fortenberry for their excellent
leadership on this critical issue, and we thank Chairman Martin for his
thoughtful and forthright determination that parents must be given more and
better tools to control the graphic sexual and violent content that comes into
their homes. It takes real political fortitude to side with families and stand
up to the millions of dollars the entertainment industry spends to buy influence
in Washington. But make no mistake - the American people are grateful that this
legislation is being offered today.
proud to share this podium with all of you and to represent America’s children
and families on this issue that affects the daily lives of millions.
To learn more about our Cable Choice Campaign
To read the remarks presented by Dan Isett at the news conference
To read the text of the
Statement by Rep. Aderholt
Statement by Rep. Lipinski
Statement by Chairman Martin