Thursday, February 21, 2008

Radio/TV: FCC's Freudian slip

You’re Boy Kevin Martin, Chairman of the FCC, and you suffer from a Freudian obsession with female breasts, posteriors, and words you deem obscene.

Book that appointment with your therapist. Don’t wait.

Remember June 4, 2007? It was a bad, bad day.

That was when a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit ruled in a 2-1 vote that the FCC decision to fine broadcasters for those appalling “fleeting expletives” was invalid.

So you took it to the Supreme Court.

You’re Kevin Martin and you keep forgetting that you just can’t make up a new rule on your own and make it stick.

“Fleeting expletives” are defined as what occurs when a live mic picks up words – accidentally or not –defined as obscene by the FCC that get heard on a live broadcast delivered by local or network television.
Briefs were filed by the four major nets – ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox – asking the Supremes to reject the case and order the FCC to deal with the deficiencies cited in the 2nd Circuit court’s opinion. We'll hear from the Supremes a week from today.

The FCC called Bono’s use of “fucking brilliant” during a live broadcast of the 2003 Golden Globe awards on NBC obscene. NBC didn’t get smacked with a fine since it hadn’t been informed in advance that FCC had revised its policy.

The FCC applied the same criterion to Fox’s live broadcasts of the 2002 and 2003 Billboard Music Awards.

In 2002, Cher said “fuck 'em’ in her acceptance remarks.

A year later, anorexic quasi-actress Nicole Richie said “cow shit” and “not so fucking simple.”
Fox, like NBC, wasn’t fined by the FCC for either incident.
You’re Kevin Martin, and I have to ask you a couple of questions.
How did you feel when your wife’s employer and lame duck Vice President of the United States, Dick Cheney not-so-politely asked Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) to perform an impossible task on the floor of the U.S. Senate and his comments were overheard by members of press corps?
What if a live mic had picked that one up, Kevin? Would his "where to go" line be considered obscene?
How about President George W. Bush caught on mic talking to Prime Minister Tony Blair at the Group 8 Summit meet, and using a word your FCC finds objectionable?
Would you fine the radio and TV stations if they had carried the comments live?
And when it comes to your bizarre standards and definitions of obscenity, why do you penalize radio more for less? Is that you just fear anything live? You must have impure, thoughts over the joys of voice tracking.

I guess that’s what one would expect from someone who used to work for Ken Starr, who had his own obsessions about a former President, a former White House intern, a cigar, and oral sex.
You’re Kevin Martin and we thought you were losing it with a one-fifth of a second flash of Janet Jackson’s nipple at the Super Bowl XXXVIII. That was how many years ago? Four? And you suffer from nightmares about Janet Jackson’s sunburst nipple ring.

Boy Kevin’s also having his FCC issue a couple of notice of forfeiture to enforce and collect unpaid fines.

The first was issued to ABC for an episode of NYPD Blue, which aired in 2003, where actress Charlotte Ross’ posterior was exposed as she was stepping into a shower. For that, Kevin wants to sue 52 ABC network affiliate stations a total of $1.4 million.

So what if it happened five years ago? To a repressed obsessive – an ass is still an ass.
Here’s Martin’s rationale. He claims the scene “"depicts sexual organs and excretory organs -- specifically an adult woman's buttocks.”
One can only imagine the sweat Boy Kevin got worked into when ABC argued that “…the buttocks are not a sexual organ.”
You’re Boy Kevin Martin and you have the analysts buzzing on this one.
The second is a $1.2 million fine against Fox over a 2003 episode of Married By America, a short-lived reality TV show, which didn’t include nudity – but had some private parts pixilated.

In Boy Kevin’s world a private part is a private part whether pixilated or not.

The FCC claims it’s only charging a mil-two since the show was carried before Congress raised the indecency fine levels to indecent amounts in 2006 when President Bush signed the Broadcast Decency Enforcement Act into law, which FCC penalties on broadcasters from $32,500 per offense to $325,000.

The nets involved have three choices:
1. Pay the fine and be done with it.
2. Pay the fine – and appeal the FCC decision in court.
3. Don't pay the fine, which puts Boy Kevin in the precarious position of asking the Department of Justice to file a motion in federal court seeking the collection of the fine.
Bet on number three. It’ll put the burden of proof on Boy Kevin and the FCC to prove its case – instead of the other way around as it would be in appellate court.
You’re Boy Kevin Martin and you don’t find it obscene that you use your Chairman of the FCC title to create your own personal hackery?

You really have to get over your belief that you can just make up and break up rules as you see fit.

And when you’re stonewalled from creating a new rule – you just issue a variance. Isn’t that right, Sam Zell?

When criticized, you just refuse to admit break rules.

Just like that time the General Accounting Office uncovered your leaks to certain media companies and lobbyists – among them – alleged McCain squeeze Vicki Iseman, who influence-peddled for Sinclair, Saga, Paxton, Telmundo, the Christian Network, PAXtv (now Ion), Religious Voices in Broadcasting, Hispanic Broadcasting, and Capstar and AMFM (now Clear Channel) .

You just claimed you were passing along inside information so those who are in the need-to-know could get their lobbying efforts in order. It always helps to know which palms need to be greased and when. What’s so bad about that?

Well, Boy Kev, some of us consider the misuse of a government organization obscene – but I digress.

Hey, Kevin, did you hear what Diane Keaton said on ABC’s Good Morning America and Jane Fonda on the Today Show just a few weeks back?
Just checking.
We'll see if the Supremes sing your song in court on February 29th.
You’re Kevin Martin and you're tormented by your improper fantasies of the United States abolishing the First Amendment.
1975 Buzzard ad & more:


J Edgar said...

The FCC is about double standards. They fine and scrutinize radio more than television. It's perfectly acceptable for them to break federal laws - but forbid the thought of seeing a body part Mr. Martin believes to be offensive. You are right. The boy needs help. Maybe he's another Larry Craig?

Jan said...

The Supreme Court will toss this out and it will be a sign of things to come when change takes place in Washington in 2009. Kevin Martin isnt just dangerous. He is just plain creepy.

Eye Team said...

I am sure if would be an eye-opener to learn the names of the lobbyists that are working presidential candidates who have media ties. It would also be interesting to learn what PACs funded by the NAB and other radio-TV organizations.

I would not be surprised to see both Hillary and Obama knee-deep in donations from broadcast companies and PAC committees as well as personal donations from the executive boards of broadcast companies.

Anonymous said...

what is it that kevin martin is trying to protect us from? you are right. this man is a sick. he may be too young to remember the early fifties but he sounds like someone who would have fit right in with the mccarthy era.

Anonymous said...

This is what the FCC wastes its taxpayer dollars on? Clear Channel, Tribune, Viacom and others get a free ride courtesy of the loopholes Kevin Martin creates while he nitpicks over cleavage, both kinds. The true obscenity IS the way the FCC "protects" us. They don't.

Anonymous said...

I remember reading how broadcasters were trying to figure out why young white males don't listen to radio any more. I have a woung white male for a nephew, so I asked him what he listened to. He gave me his iPod, and made me promise not to tell his mother what I heard. Every song on there had language or subject matter that was unairable on the public airwaves. We want to know why radio has lost the younger generation? Listen to their iPods, or scan through You Tube. You'll find out quickly why. Radio is simply too clean, too safe, too boring. No bad language, no controversial opinions, and if you call someone a "nappy headed ho," you get fired.

If you really think all you have to do is hire a lot of DJs and spend more money on marketing and promotions, you're out of touch with the real media world. You can spend all the money, and write all the laws. But in this media environment, there is always a way for the people to get what they want, no matter how disgusting, how revolting, and how illegal it is.

Anonymous said...

Please explain this for me if you or anyone can.

This Bush administration FCC has a GOP minority 3-2 and Kevin Martin is its chairman.

Kevin Martin has been cited by the GAO for tipping off certain lobbyists and owners about upcoming decisions in advance to give them an unfair advantage.

The same Kevin Martin then goes after the stations owned by the corporations he cuts back room deals for and fines them for obscenities, nudity and the like.

It doesn't just doesn't make sense.

Does he overcompensate in the morality in media end so he can get away with the backroom deals?

If anyone reading this can explain, please do.

Wonderland said...

I am a lot older than many of you who read this. I grew up in the 50's and early 60's when you could not get away with saying "hell" and "damn" on the radio or TV.

There was a very popular song by the Kingsmen called "Louie Louie". It is a Jamaican folk song whose lyrics are unique to its land.

The Kingsmen were mostly a cover band on a small label (Wand) and when they recorded "Louie Louie" they slurred the lyrics making them impossible to understand.

That made us kids make up our own dirty lyrics to the song and it became a hugely popular hit in New England and eventually the entire country. The only reason it was a hit was the perception that the lyrics were dirty. Today, the first five words of a rap song or Motley Crew have more dirt than a hundred "Louie Louies".

The point is that censorship is foolish. I believe in some controls but allow them to be liberal enough that they are not under strict interpretation. I take my sons to Fenway Park where they hear more four-letter words than in any rap song. I don't like it but it is a way of life.

I have to question Kevin Martin on NYPD Blue. There were many cases of nudity and coarser language and it was in a "safe harbor" time period. If it was okay then why is Martin going after the show now?

talex said...

I read this a few years back when the other genius Michael Powell was the Chairman of the FCC. He claimed the FCC was lax in collecting fines. If that is true and many of those cited for infractions did not pay their fine does that open the possibility that the FCC collects only fines from those not in their "private club" which means that the big broadcasters using the major lobbyists never get charged?

cavman said...

This FCC is a joke. The next administration must call for an overhaul. Michael Copps is the only voice of reason and true authority in the commission. The radio industry misses the boat. They hate the guy because he stands for re-regulation. What they don't realize is that their stations would be far more profitable under his rule. It would put the control of broadcasting back in the hands of broadcasters who aren't afraid to work hard and put in long hours to make a station succeed. What is going on in radio today is an abomination where no one is winning - from the listeners to the clients.

Ed Everett said...

If Copps isn't the next chairman of the FCC - forget it. Write off radio, write off TV. It will choke to death from its own greed and mismanagement. Copps would put controls on but they would be ones broadcasters would have no problem with. Copps will actually save broadcasters money. Those running media today don't have a clue how to make money even though they have been given every advantage by the current FCC.

Anonymous said...

"Michael Copps is the only voice of reason and true authority in the commission."

If Michael Copps is the "voice of reason," why is he completely unable to create any kind of consensus within the FCC, and is unable to even get the respect of civil servants there? The man is obviously argumentative, refuses to compromise, and is a great example of why our government doesn't work.

However, he probably says lots of things that radio haters like. So therefore, he's a brilliant genius who deserves to be made Pope.

bobyoung said...

Anonymous siad:

If Michael Copps is the "voice of reason," why is he completely unable to create any kind of consensus within the FCC, and is unable to even get the respect of civil servants there? The man is obviously argumentative, refuses to compromise, and is a great example of why our government doesn't work.


Anonymous said...


Sorry, but I know two of the other commissioners, and that's not the situation. They tell me Michael is argumentative and a temper-throwing baby who refuses to work with the other members.

These are people who have a very open mind with regards to broadcasting. It's not their primary area of specialization.


Unless you want to live in a cave and hunt for your own food, you need to get the chip off your shoulder about corporations and learn how to live in the real world. It's not the 1920s.