Beliefnet
Faith, Media & Culture

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

Coarsening of America continues. From LifeSiteNews: The FCC is seeking comments from the public as they consider relaxing their obscenity standards for broadcast television and radio. If adopted the new, lower standards would allow brief “non-sexual” nudity and isolated expletives even during prime time, when most families are typically watching with their children. Currently, broadcasters face heavy fines for violations of the indecency policy, which bans strong curse words and most nudity. But as media culture grows coarser, the backlog of reported offenses has grown unmanageable for the FCC, leading Chairman Julius Genachowski to order the Enforcement Bureau to reduce the backlog by focusing only on “egregious cases” and dismissing as many of the others as they can.

IMHO: The best change the government could make (perhaps through the FTC rather than the FCC) would be to require cable and satellite operators to offer a la carte programming that would allow Americans to set their own television decency standards. As it stands now, consumer fees are being used to prop up channels that many of us don’t watch and which actually offend and insult our values. Add to that the fact that demographics are used to declare shows that actually quite low-rated (in terms of overall viewership) to be hits because a high percentage of those watching are comprised of a narrow, supposedly hip, sliver of the audience. Simply put, TV’s bundling and demographic system smacks of a cultural scam designed to override and undermine the tastes and values of the general public.

If TV networks had to actually compete for the right to enter your home (by gaining your approval and not that of some cable industry exec or FCC bureaucrat), you’d definitely find more programming that supports your personal values — and, at the very least, doesn’t insult them. It would also, I believe, have a major cleansing affect on the culture. People who still wanted the demeaning crap could still have — but my guess is there would be less of it.  At the same time, by eliminating the channel clutter, viewers would save money.

BTW, this isn’t about censorship, it’s about consumer choice. When you go the the multiplex, you’re not required to buy a ticket to every movie showing. When you go to Amazon, you don’t have to buy a thousand books to get the one you want. Why should television be any different?

Let actual demand decide what enters American living rooms.

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

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