The U.S. Federal Communications Commission’s claims that excessive television violence require it to trample the Bill of Rights are contradicted by the commission’s own records, a new study says.
As Broadcasting and Cable reports, "violence did not even make the list of top programming complaints to the commission, which did include complaints about indecency/profanity and obscenity, as well as in two catch-all categories for general criticisms."
As I noted in my earlier piece on the FCC mentioned above, the public is much more concerned about indecency on television than violence in the medium.
The B&C story continues:
In its quarterly complaint report released Wednesday, the FCC did not break out the number of complaints for violence–FCC spokesman Clyde Ensslin was unable to provide a breakout of violence complaints at press time. But that absence means there were not enough complaints to make the list of top radio and TV programming complaints, the lowest number of which was 1,106 for a category simply labeled "general criticism."
One argument is that the FCC doesn’t have the ability to regulate violence, which could discourage complaints from being lodged. But, also according to the FCC, over a third of the TV shows that had indecency complaints filed against them for the first half of 2006 were cable programs, which the commission doesn’t regulate either.
Interestingly, the number of complaints about obscenity, indecency, and profanity fell, according to the B&C story:
Meanwhile, consumer complaints to the FCC about obscenity, indecency and profanity, dropped precipitously from the third to the fourth quarters of 2006, though it was still the top category in number of complaints to the commission.
For the fourth quarter of 2006, 30,962 indecency/profanity or obscenity complaints were lodged, compared to 162,170 the previous quarter. Almost all the fourth-quarter complaints came in October (29,821), with only 835 complaints in November and 306 in December. The totals can include duplicate complaints sent to different parts of the agency, so the totals may even be smaller than that.
Whether that indicates that TV has cleaned up a bit during that quarter or viewers have simply tired of complaining is unclear.
What is perfectly clear, however, is that the FCC should get off of its crusade against violent programming and tend to cases of obscenity and indecency, which are plentiful enough and are under its appropriate constitutional purview.