Bob Wright, CEO of NBC Universal, has a great op-ed in the Wall Street Journal about how the FCC should butt out of content, and stop pandering to small-minded special interest groups.
No one suggests broadcast networks adopt an “anything goes” approach. All broadcast networks employ standards experts who vet thousands of hours of programming to make sure it doesn’t violate sensibilities. Of course they make mistakes, and neither audiences nor government officials have been shy in voicing concerns — to which the networks respond. Over-the-air broadcasters — who are the most responsible, community-focused providers of programming in the business — do an excellent job. Indeed, the vast majority of complaints about specific shows filed with the FCC (99% in 2004) came from organized interest groups who regularly trawl for complaints from individuals who never saw the show in question.The FCC should formulate policies that take advantage of advanced technology, rather than hark back to solutions developed in — and for — a bygone era. An appropriate FCC policy would recognize that our TV audience is quite varied; that some programs at all hours should appropriately serve the two-thirds of households that do not have children; and that blocking technology is a 21st-century solution that is consistent with the Supreme Court’s admonition that the government is constrained by the First Amendment to use the least restrictive means to address “indecent” programming content.