Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Powell panders over F-word. Not to intrude on your day with F-bombs, but it was the Federal Communications Commission that ruled last October on the fine distinctions between the adjectival and verb forms of that fine old Anglo-Saxon word.

I don't find this quite as personally exciting as quoting from the footnotes of the Starr Report. Nevertheless, here is the excerpt from the FCC report (PDF file) exonerating the broadcast media for putting Bono on the air while he used the phrase "fucking brilliant" at an awards show:

As a threshold matter, the material aired during the "Golden Globe Awards" program does not describe or depict sexual and excretory activities and organs. The word "fucking" may be crude and offensive, but, in the context presented here, did not describe sexual or excretory organs or activities. Rather, the performer used the word "fucking" as an adjective or expletive to emphasize an exclamation. Indeed, in similar circumstances, we have found that offensive language used as an insult rather than as a description of sexual or excretory activity or organs is not within the scope of the Commission's prohibition of indecent program content.

God, I love it when the FCC talks dirty to me!

Anyway, the decision, arrived at by the FCC's enforcement division, is now being challenged by the head of the agency, Michael Powell, who, according to this report on, "is actively campaigning inside the agency to get that ruling overturned by the full commission."

Powell also wants fines for broadcasters who let the naughty bits slip through to be raised from $27,500 to $275,000. At an appearance at the National Press Club today, Powell reportedly said, "Some of these fines are peanuts. They're just a cost of doing business. That has to change."

The pandering, puffy-faced offspring of Secretary of State Colin Powell is better known for trying to convince us that corporate media concentration is good for us. Edging into James Dobson territory is new for him, and somewhat at odds with his image as a libertarian technocrat. But, of course, it is an election year.

The MediaDrome notes that "given the fact that Bono's outburst was broadcast live, it's difficult to imagine how stations are to be expected to exert control." Worth reading.

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