Viewer Response to VMAs Shows Demand for Cable Choice

Written by PTC | Published September 16, 2013

The Federal Communications Commission has received over 150 complaints about MTV’s recent Video Music Awards – clear proof that audiences are tired of paying for programming they do not support. Back in August, MTV’s annual Video Music Awards flooded homes with raunchy dance moves and song lyrics, most notably in Robin Thicke’s and Miley Cyrus’ dance routine to the song “Blurred Lines.” As noted by The Hollywood Reporter, pay-TV subscribers were scandalized that a program which MTV rated TV-14 (acceptable for 14 year olds) contained such extended and explicitly sexual content. So upset were parents that over 150 filed indecency complaints about the program with the Federal Communications Commission. (In addition to complaints to the FCC, almost 3000 petitions were sent to Congress demanding Cable Choice, by way of PTC's action alerts.) The comments received by the FCC clearly demonstrate the objections concerned parents had to the program. "Had I wanted my family to see a hooker perform a live sex show, I would have taken her to Tijuana," said one complaint. Another called the performance "crude, pornographic and absolutely shameful," while a third said the show was “just purely disgusting…I cannot believe this was rated for kids 14 and up!" Because cable and satellite programming are paid for by individual customers and sent directly into each subscriber’s home, not beamed over the publicly-owned airwaves, long-standing legal custom has been that the FCC has no power to enforce decency standards on pay-TV programming. But the very fact that viewers were so angered by the performance that they wrote to the FCC on their own initiative demonstrates that cable and satellite subscribers want the power to choose – and pay for – only those programs they actually watch, without being forced to subsidize shows they never watch, don’t want, and even find offensive.

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