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The source of FCC complaints

Who can forget the horror of this year’s display at the Super Bowl — Nipplegate — when many Americans were devastated by being exposed or having their children exposed to Janet Jackson’s barely visible breast for two seconds in the middle of a three-hour celebration of large men in spandex running into each other?

The breadth of the sorrow wrought upon the nation was made evident by the suddenly crusading Federal Communications Commission, whose heavy fines for broadcast indecency against each local station that aired the Super Bowl were justified by chairman Michael Powell.

He cited hundreds of thousands of citizen complaints received in the days after the mammary mishap, compared to only 14,000 in 2003 and 350 each for the previous two years.

Already this year, more than 1 million complaints have been sent to the FCC concerning television broadcasts. Only half resulted from the Super Bowl incident.

Obviously, the nation is united in its outrage at the content washing over the impressionable youth of America.

Of course, what Powell failed to mention to Congress was 99.8 percent of all complaints received in 2003 came from a single source, the activist decency group Parents Television Council.

In 2004, 99.9 percent of the million-plus complaints came from the same source. As reported by the media journal Mediaweek, official documents from the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau show unique individual complaints are extremely few and far between.

Many broadcasters are now demanding fines — such as a $1.2 million proposal against FOX and its affiliates for “Married by America” — be rescinded, as offenses are based on a violation of community standards, and the council’s small, radical community doesn’t count.

As much as I despise reality shows featuring midget strippers receiving plastic surgery, I certainly don’t think the federal government should be dispensing punishments based on the offended tastes of a few spam-happy culture warriors.

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