In response to this and a mountain of other pending potential violations regarding profane or indecent material the network had been airing, Viacom entered into a consent decree with the FCC in November of 2004. In this formal settlement, Viacom agreed to pay $3.5 million in fines and adopt a "company-wide compliance plan for the purpose of preventing the broadcast of material in violation of the Indecency Laws."
Had Viacom lived up to its promises, the discussion would be over. But there was Redstone giving that tired, self-serving speech about the First Amendment, with his fans in the entertainment press dutifully applauding, for one simple reason: Viacom never honored its commitment and, I think it's safe to say, never had any intention of making good on its word.
Where is the evidence that anything in the compliance plan was actually adopted by CBS? Where is the evidence that the network adopted any kind of "zero tolerance policy"? In fact, the evidence suggests that Viacom deliberately did just the opposite.
Within a few short weeks of signing the consent decree, CBS blatantly violated the consent decree by boldly re-airing one of the programs that had been protested, an episode of "Without a Trace" with a teen orgy scene. That's what drew the heavy FCC fines Redstone is now protesting. Also that same month, also in defiance of its signed agreement to institute broadcast delays to prevent cursing, a CBS "Early Show" segment featured a cast member from "Survivor" hurling the word "bull-s---ter" -- without being bleeped.
Viacom agreed to not seek judicial review of the terms of the consent decree. Viacom is now in federal court with a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the indecency law and the FCC's ability to enforce it. Thus, on one day, Viacom makes a legal admission of airing indecent content, then on another, turns around and claims in legal proceedings that nothing they have aired is indecent.
Viacom breached this consent decree from the beginning, cynically and deliberately. In that vein it was perfectly appropriate for Sumner Redstone to deliver the speech he gave. It is unfortunate that no one in the entertainment "news" media found it newsworthy that in the final analysis, it was all a pile of bunk.
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