FCC should worry less about radio

Steven Schlessman and Steven Schlessman

The First Amendment states that we have the right to free speech, but the Federal Communication Commission’s job is to limit what is appropriate to say on television and radio. Which makes sense; there is a limit to what can be broadcasted and what can be seen on television.

Where is the line drawn that separates appropriate and inappropriate material? The FCC seems to think it can be anywhere they like it to be.

Most of the time when you hear about the FCC it contains two words we all know: Howard Stern. Stern, for the last decade or so, has been pushing the bar of controversial topics, as well as blasting anybody he feels necessary, which makes Stern who he is and a controversial topic in his own right.

Whether you like him or not, he speaks his mind on how he feels, and you have to respect him for that. I thought this is what the First Amendment, and this country represents. It gives us the ability to say something that might offend or even hurt somebody, without any consequences. The First Amendment doesn’t just protect the speech we like, but more importantly the speech we don’t.

It is ridiculous that there can be Ku Klux Klan rallies in the middle of the town square, but something that may be a little vulgar or sexually explicit cannot be talked about on the airwaves.

I understand there needs to be a limit on what you can see on television, and I for one agree with that. Television is something that families watch together and is the number one way people get their information. In my opinion the FCC should worry more about television than radio. Radio is different than television, but I don’t think the FCC perceives it that way.

Radio is used more by the older and more mature adults who listen to talk radio — like Stern’s show. Children and young adults gravitate more towards television to get their news and information. Talk radio is different from the news you see on television or read in newspapers. It is much more raw and uncut. It is more of the average man’s take on things, and topics that the average American can relate to, as opposed to discussions on the economic impact of orange trees in the South.

Though it is a very important discussion, sometimes we need to get away from complicated government policies and indulge ourselves in perhaps the conversations we talk about when our mother isn’t around.

It’s a whole different audience, a more unpolished forum than your nightly news on TV. We need to do something about it, because talk radio is the last form of news that doesn’t just talk about murder and the sad events going on around the world. It talks about completely irrelevant events sometimes that are just fun to laugh at or think about. Every once in a while, you need that.

To make things even worse congress is trying to pass an indecency bill that will give the FCC more power to regulate what they think is indecent, (whatever that means) and fine up to $500,000. The penalty for aiding a terrorist organization is only $250,000, but if you talk about a detailed sexual experience you are fined twice as much. Something is definitely wrong with this picture.

Though it is not anybody’s fault in particular for having proposed much stricter fines, I can think of one person that I can put most of the blame on, and that name is Janet Jackson.

Ever since her Super Bowl half-time show, the FCC has been hammering down on anybody that gets a few complaints from viewers.

Personally, I never saw what the big deal was. All it is was a boob. It was not that big of a deal. Michael Wilbon of ESPN’s “Pardon the Interruption” put it best when confronting the issue of what to tell your kids if they saw it. He put it simply, by saying, “It’s a boob. And if your lucky, kid, you might get to see a couple more of those in your life.”

This is all too typical of any government agency — to overreact over one small event. It was one incident and should be treated as one obscure event.

I fear if we continue to go on this path we will be living more like a dictatorship than a democracy. We are a country of free speech, and I hope it stays that way, for all types of broadcasting.

So write to your congressman or the FCC or anything at all, because your opinion does matter.

E-mail Steve with comments at [email protected].