The breast for last

Feb 262004
Authors: Thea Domber

In the weeks since the Super Bowl, the Federal Communications

Commission (FCC) has proposed a record fine for “indecent” material

on the radio, TV networks have gone from over-exposure to, well, no

exposure and the radio world is firing every DJ that doesn’t fit

with our current politically correct world.

And to think, all we had to do was hit them where it hurts – the

pocketbook! Once the FCC proposed a record $755,000 fine for

indecent material on the syndicated Bubba the Love Sponge radio

show, and warned that Viacom (owners of CBS) could face a fine

upwards of $1 million for the Super Bowl halftime stunt with Janet

Jackson and Justin Timberlake, suddenly all the major media

corporations are scrambling to clean up their acts.

But don’t believe this 180-degree turnaround. Because as soon as

the hoopla dies down, these companies will go back to their normal

skuzzy ways and the world will be tilted properly on its axis


In the interest of full disclosure, I should point out that I

run the campus radio station, which means I’m too indie for indie.

I don’t like to hear the same song 26 times a day, and I don’t

think that disposable is the sound a band should strive for.

These networks and stations, the ones that air shows like “Fear

Factor” with its gross-out content, the ones that allow strippers

to strip on-air or re-enact sex acts over the airwaves, these

networks and stations suddenly grew consciences?

I didn’t think so.

Please, Viacom, don’t pretend like you really care about

“quality family” programming on your geriatric network, CBS, when

you also own MTV, home to more of Britney than I care to see, and

Showtime, home to such quality family programs as “Red Shoe

Diaries.” Ok, you also own VH1, home of “I Love the 80s,” but

that’s not enough to redeem yourselves.

Sure, Clear Channel, I’m sure you’re very worried about what

children might hear on the air after carrying Howard Stern and

Bubba the Love Sponge on your radio stations until Wednesday. And

Infinity, you’re not in the clear either, since you own the rights

to Howard Stern and Opie and Anthony.

In 2000, Opie and Anthony hosted the one of the most popular

syndicated morning shows east of the Mississippi. Fast forward two

years and they get kicked off the air after pulling a stunt in

which two listeners were dared to and eventually did have sex in

Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City while our audacious

hosts gave step-by-step accounts. Makes me shiver just thinking

about it. Infinity, who owns the stations the show was aired on,

was fined $355,000 and fired the two DJs as a result.

After the Superbowl, MTV moved five videos it considered to be

too racy to the hours of 10 a.m. through 6 a.m., including videos

by Maroon 5, Blink 182, Britney Spears and two others. But MTV

couldn’t keep their idealist masks on very long. On Thursday, they

announced that those five videos had returned to primetime.

Pardon my cynicism, but it seems a little convenient that these

media behemoths only started to care about what was aired on their

stations after they stood to lose a lot of money. And this is not

1997, when Infinity ate a $1.7 million fine for lewd material on

Howard Stern’s show. These companies are now on relatively tight

budgets and don’t want to lose any money in the lackluster economy.

We only hear about the big fines. It used to be that stations just

paid the fine and the DJ got a slap on the wrist. Not anymore. A

moral cleansing of sorts has hit our media conglomerates. Must be

something in the water.

Why the hypocrisy, guys? Why even pretend like you now care

about what the children hear or see? Or anyone, for that matter.

All you care about is your money. Come on now, say it with me. I

care about money, and that’s all I care about.

The FCC is just as guilty of playing two-face. On the 2003

Golden Globes, U2’s Bono called an award the band just won “fucking

brilliant” live on NBC. U2 is only my favorite band in the world so

I’m inclined to forgive him, and apparently so was someone at the

FCC, because neither Bono nor NBC ended up facing a fine (the

matter is being reconsidered, but it won’t go anywhere). The FCC

reasoned that since the expletive made it on the air between 10

p.m. and 6 a.m. (that’s east coast bias time, kids), it could


But suddenly, after interest groups came forward and pelted the

FCC with moralist and righteous mind bullets, the very same FCC

turned around and has proposed an increase of the indecency fine

from $25,000 to $250,000 and has demanded that TV networks and

radio stations clean up their broadcasts.

Meanwhile I’m making my own irrational demands. I demand that

there be some consistency in how these fines are handed out! I

demand that everyone be held to the same standards whether they own

2000 stations or 2! I demand that the FCC make clear definitions of

indecency and obscenity that don’t involve the words “reasonable”

or “normal”! I demand that all fine proceeds be given to KCSU! And

finally, I demand a chocolate chip cookie, just for the hell of


Seriously, though, it feels like the world is not right when big

companies who care only about the bottom line pretend to care about

anything else. If this stuck for about 10 years, I might be able to

adjust my reality to the new world where TV had plots and not plotz

and radio had music and not shock jocks. But wait three weeks; I

have a feeling it will all be back to abnormal.

Thea is the station manager for KCSU. Her column runs every

other Friday.

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