In the Family Forum's defense, programming completely free of offensive content is as scarce as heat waves in Siberia. The Parents Television Council annually awards its Top Ten Best and Worst family shows on television. This year it could only recommend nine good ones. Maybe this advertiser group should rename itself the Occasionally Family Friendly Programming Forum?
What do these awards say about the mindset of the TV czars -- the producers, the carriers and the underwriters -- and their ability to define "family" TV? Six major corporations own virtually everything aired on broadcast television as well as two-thirds of the cable channels, but it's clear these companies don't have a clue about what families want on television. Worse still, they don't want families deciding for themselves what is, and isn't, appropriate family viewing. That corporate community, along with its myriad of lobbying firms and front groups, is zestily lobbying Washington to stop decency enforcement on the public airwaves as well as cable choice on cable networks. Parents are desperately are trying to shield their young children from horrific violence, vulgar language and sperm counts. Nothing doing, says the industry. We control the vertical and horizontal. We know what's best for families.
Trust us, they said. We'll give you a ratings system. But the useless TV ratings system enacted by Hollywood proves their unwillingness to address the problem. With only a handful of TV shows rated TV-MA for adult audiences, Hollywood is saying that everything else on the tube is, to one degree or another, appropriate for children.
Trust us, they said. You can just block out the shows you don't like -- if you can figure out how to do it, har-har. But you still have to pay us, through your monthly cable bills, for that very programming your family finds offensive and doesn't want to watch.
Trust us, the cable industry is now saying there's no need for cable choice. We will design "family programming tiers" for families. We know better than families what it is they want to watch on cable.
Can anyone take this newest ploy seriously? Apparently, yes. Sen. Ted Stevens, who heads the Commerce Committee and has been demanding a solution to the slime coming out of our television sets thinks this idea is dandy. So dandy, in fact, that when he endorsed it, he announced it indicates that nothing should be done on the broadcast airwave front, even though the "family tier" idea has no application to the broadcast airwaves!
This is no "compromise," as the industry claims. It is just another fraudulent public-relations ploy. And Stevens bit. Hard.
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