Faith, Media & Culture

Here’s today’s dispatch from the crossroads of faith, media and culture.

Independent movie and TV producer Christian Peschken has been named Vice President and board member of the Decency Enforcement Center for Television (aka Decent TV). The non-profit organization that, through the court system, advocates on behalf of enforcing existing laws regulating  content (i.e. obscenity and indecency) on over-the-air broadcast television and radio. In doing so, Decent TV allies with groups like Parents Television Council, Morality in the Media, Focus on the
Family, Family Research Council, and Alliance Defense Fund as well as Jay Sekulow’s American Center for Law and Justice.

The organization, for example, was instrumental in the case FCC vs. Fox. On June 21, 2012 the United States Supreme Court refused to side with the networks’ campaign to overturn the broadcast decency law. Instead the court upheld the authority of the FCC to enforce broadcast decency standards between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 p.m., when children are likely watching.

Christian Peschken, you may recall, was recently featured on this site regarding his call on Hollywood to adopt content standards (aka self-censorship) in the wake of  the mass shooting  during a late-night theater showing of  The Dark Knight Rises  in Aurora, Colorado.

Regarding his new role, he says “Almost 90% of television viewers approve of FCC decency regulations in broadcasting and believe TV is too indecent. The problem though is that most viewers in case of violations are doing nothingabout or do not know what to do. That’s where Decent TV comes in. We educate people about theissues and the deliberate violations by television networks. This is an issue that should concern all responsible citizens.”

Peschken also recently produced this video explaining the mission of Decent TV:

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IMHO: Advocating on behalf of existing laws governing reasonable content for the public airwaves is reasonable. Free expression of thought and opinion is, of course, a lynchpin of America. The question then becomes how an opinion is expressed — particularly over public airwaves.  And, let’s face it, a lot of what is at issue has nothing to do with anything approaching an actual idea. It’s just prurience, pure and simple. Is it really a broadcaster’s right, for instance, to graphically depict extreme, cruel and sadistic violence? There certainly has to be a line somewhere. Where that line is can be debated. That’s what the courts are for. That’s the American Way and may the most reasonable side win each individual case.

Personally, I’d like the see the government (and, perhaps, Decent TV) advocate on behalf of consumer choice.  Why, for example, should cable and satellite giants be able to force consumers to buy hundreds of TV channels in order to receive, perhaps, five that they actually want.  The current system of bundling allows faceless conglomerates to coerce consumers to pay for these unwanted networks which, often, conflicts with their own values. Imagine if you wanted to buy a book from Barnes & Noble but, to do so, you had to purchase its entire stock.  (Conservative books, BTW, do very well. As would, I’m sure, conservative TV if true market forces were allowed to work.)

Nothing, in my opinion, would change the TV landscape more than consumer choice. If viewers would only be allowed to purchase channels ala carte, they would not only save money but be able to register their direct votes on which networks represent their values.  Such a requirement would reduce the ability of networks to use demographics to undemocratically skew  programming toward the desires of a relatively small sliver deemed to be “desirable” and “hip.”

Ala carte cable/satellite TV would also be great for advertisers — since they would know that viewers are actually choosing to purchase a network’s programming  rather then momentarily stopping on it while channel surfing.

So, yes, argue in favor of enforcing existing decency laws in the courts. But also fight for the rights of consumers to personally choose what entertainment programming comes into their homes. That’s one court case I’d like to see.

Encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

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