Brent Bozell
Now that it's almost departure time for Julius Genachowski, Obama's first chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, The Hill newspaper has noted one important sign of his priorities. In his four years at the helm, the FCC hasn't issued one fine to Hollywood for indecent content on broadcast television. Now there's a legacy.

Hollywood sends its gratitude, Mr. Chairman, for an absolutely perfect record of inaction. Who says that in Obama's America, your campaign contributions can't buy regulatory paralysis in Washington when needed?

Few media outlets noticed. Communications Daily described Genachowski's perfect zero as a "restrained approach." He wasn't restrained. He was completely inert.

On April 1, a day on which the FCC assumed we were all April Fools, they issued a public notice with the headline "FCC Reduces Backlog of Broadcast Indecency Complaints by 70 percent (More That One Million Complaints)." They did this by simply -- throwing them out. Some had insufficient information, some were outside their regulatory purview (like cable TV), and some were outside the statute of limitations. One excuse after another. After you've ignored them for four years, they can conveniently go away -- snap! -- like that.

The Supreme Court overturned two indecency fines last year, ignoring the nudity and profanity in question because the FCC failed to give the networks "fair notice prior to the broadcasts in question that fleeting expletives and momentary nudity could be found actionably indecent." Lawyers are funny when they defend their clients as dumber than dirt. It's like saying "McDonald's wasn't given fair notice they weren't supposed to sell spoiled meat to customers."

But the second verdict came last June, so to wait another ten months to discuss (lack of) enforcement is a sign that Genachowski was just going to fritter away his last months in office, dragging his feet all the way. See this as the chairman's goodbye kiss to the entertainment industry and kiss-off of the people who wasted the time to file a complaint to the federal agency mandated by Congress to hear their petitions.

The FCC would like to proceed in a way that is "fully consistent with vital First Amendment principles," we were told. Thus the freedom of speech of network executives who broadcast profanity, near-pornography and grisly violence at children is protected. Those who write to the nation's regulators to complain? Well, they have the First Amendment freedom to shove their own complaints into an Internet hole somewhere and have them ignored until the statute of limitations expires. Take a hike, citizens.


Brent Bozell

Founder and President of the Media Research Center, Brent Bozell runs the largest media watchdog organization in America.
 
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