Fight for Television Decency Lives On

From Dr. Richard Land of The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.

“The battle over decency on television continues. Last week, a Senate committee rejected attempts to restore the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) ability to effectively regulate indecency, but another committee will take up a similar measure tomorrow.

These moves come on the heels of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals’ 2-1 decision in June to deny the FCC authority to clamp down on indecency. As it stands, major television networks can broadcast fleeting expletives like the F-word and S-word at any hour of the day, including the family hours when our children are likely to be watching.

In an action alert last week, I drew your attention to Sen. Sam Brownback’s (R-KS) noble efforts to clean up television and hold broadcasters accountable for crossing lines of decency. His two amendments, offered in the Senate Appropriations Committee, would restore the FCC’s power to prohibit the use of profanity and indecent images, including fleeting expletives, on broadcast television between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. and give the FCC authority to prohibit those networks from airing excessive violence during those hours. Unfortunately, the committee chose to block the amendments to the Financial Services Appropriations bill.

Thankfully, we still have an opportunity to help rid some of the filth from television. Sen. John Rockefeller (D-WV) has introduced the Protecting Children from Indecent Programming Act (S. 1780)—very similar to one of the Brownback amendments that was blocked—which would require the FCC to “maintain a policy that a single word or image may constitute indecent programming.” The Commerce Committee will mark-up, or review, S. 1780 on Thursday, July 19.

Without swift action and support by the committee, fleeting expletives and wardrobe malfunctions like Janet Jackson’s during the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show will no doubt riddle broadcast television programming in the future. This legislation is crucial to hold broadcast television companies accountable.

I fear that unless Congress acts soon, the major networks will air more and more indecent words and images without worry of financial penalties, making television virtually unsuitable for any family.

That’s why your senators need to hear from you TODAY!

If you agree that broadcast television should not be given license to air offensive language and images, please contact your senators and tell them to support S. 1780, the Protecting Children from Indecent Programming Act. And if one of your senators is on the Commerce Committee, he or she especially needs to hear from you. (See the list below.)

You can call your senators by dialing the Capitol switchboard at 202/224-3121. The operator will then connect you to the senator’s office of your choice. If you do not know who your senators are, or if you would prefer to use email, just click here and enter your zip code in the space provided to send them the suggested letter or one entirely your own.

Commerce Committee Members


Chairman Daniel Inouye (HI) (202) 224-3934
Barbara Boxer (CA) (202) 224-3553
Maria Cantwell (WA) (202) 224-3441
Thomas Carper (DE) (202) 224-2441
Byron Dorgan (ND) (202) 224-2551
John Kerry (MA) (202) 224-2742
Amy Klobuchar (MN) (202) 224-3244
Frank Lautenberg (NJ) (202) 224-3224
Claire McCaskill (MO) (202) 224-6154
Bill Nelson (FL) (202) 224-5274
Mark Pryor (AR) (202) 224-2353
John Rockefeller (WV) (202) 224-6472
Vice Chairman Ted Stevens (AK) (202) 224-3004
Jim DeMint (SC) (202) 224-6121
John Ensign (NV) (202) 224-6244
Kay Bailey Hutchison (TX) (202) 224-5922
Trent Lott (MS) (202) 224-6253
John McCain (AZ) (202) 224-2235
Gordon Smith (OR) (202) 224-3753
Olympia Snowe (ME) (202) 224-5344
John Sununu (NH) (202) 224-2841
John Thune (SD) (202) 224-2321
David Vitter (LA) (202) 224-4623

I deeply appreciate your contacting your senators again on the issue of television indecency. If our senators don’t hear from us now, we could find broadcast television increasingly giving us an earful and eyeful of content fit only for the garbage dump. “


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