Statement by Tim Winter: Former FCC Chairmen File Supreme Court Brief
In response to a brief that was filed by Former Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairmen with the U.S. Supreme Court to defend Fox’s claim that airing the “F-word” and “S-word” during two Fox awards show broadcasts was not indecent, Parents Television Council President Tim Winter issued the following statement:
“The brief filed by the former Chairmen is disappointing, especially given the disparity of the co-signers. Newt Minow was the single greatest FCC advocate for the public interest and for children, and Mr. Fowler was perhaps the worst. Personally, I have relied on Chairman Minow’s book, Abandoned in the Wasteland: Children, Television, and the First Amendment, as my textbook and guiding foundation as a media advocate for children and families,” Winter said.
“With that said, we respectfully disagree with the essence of the brief announced today. We strongly support the efforts of the FCC to respond to the wanton acts of the broadcast networks and we believe the principles of the Pacifica decision are as relevant today as they were when the decision was issued.
“What we’re seeing today on primetime broadcast TV would have shocked the conscience of the public 30 years ago. It was incomprehensible that there could be a striptease during a Super Bowl broadcast; a titillating scene of a fully-nude woman on a police drama; routine descriptions or depictions of oral sex, anal sex, bestiality, pedophilia, necrophilia, and the like; or the now-frequent use of the harshest profanity including yet another broadcast of the ‘F-word.’ The latest instance aired at 9 pm Eastern time (8:00 pm in the Central and Mountain time zones) in a pre-edited program on CBS just three days ago, for which CBS wasn’t inclined even to offer an apology. How could this type of material possibly be considered a ‘radical expansion of the definition of indecency beyond its original conception?’
“The television networks and their agents state that the airwaves are no longer uniquely pervasive, and they state that decency laws have a chilling effect on the creative community. It is impossible for both statements to be true. Both can be – and in fact both are – untrue. The networks generate tens of billions of dollars in revenue every year by using the uniquely pervasive public airwaves and they can legally air indecent material after 10:00 p.m. It is pathetic for them to insinuate that somehow they or the public are being harmed by commonsense decency rules,” Winter concluded.