Children's Activist Challenges the FCC
May 18, 2004

Children's television activist Pegy Charren wrote Federal Communications Commission Chairman Michael Powell last week asking the FCC to stop censoring the media in the name of protecting children. Charren, the founder of Action for Children's Television and also a board member of the nonprofit Center for Creative Voices in the Media, recently joined with the group's executive director Jonathan Rintels in branding the Commission's indecency crackdown as overly broad, chilling, pervasive and contrary to the public interest.

The FCC recently decided to make the F-word and other profanities potentially liable for big fines, following Bono's use of the F-word during NBC's 2003 broadcast of the Golden Globes. Broadcasting & Cable reports that Charren and Rintel appeared to be reacting in part to an FCC filing last week by major producers of noncommercial programming. In that filing, programmers told the Commission they had begun self-censoring shows such as Masterpiece Theater and Antiques Roadshow for fear of violating indecency rules.

"Many within and without the Commission supported its new policy on the grounds that it is necessary to protect-and in the best interests of-- America's children, regrettably nothing could be further from the truth," Charren and Rintels said in their letter. "Government censorship is not the way to protect children from inappropriate television. The right to express what some consider offensive speech is the price Americans pay for freedom of political speech and we cannot afford to risk losing that freedom."

Various networks, station groups, the ACLU and others recently asked the FCC to reconsider its Bono decision.

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