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The Idiot Box No More!
Chicago, IL (DSN) - Hark! Is that the freedom bell I hear ringing for attention? It seems to be tolling for radio and TV. Recently there has been a born again movement against the "evils" of these media outlets. After the great Super Bowl wardrobe malfunction, groups such as The Parents TV Council have been diligently lobbying the FCC and Commerce Committee for changes in what they call "offensive" broadcasting. Coincidentally, the FCC has since raised their monetary fines tenfold for anything they consider indecent on public radio and have brought network television under fire as well.

Is the squeaky wheel of the minority getting their oil? (Just ask Clear Channel about their $1.75 million record breaking fine they received for the antics of Howard Stern.) Feeling their ashes of influence haven't been stoked enough with the public airwaves, these “righteous” groups and councils have turned their focus to cable and satellite TV. Using stronghold tactics on advertisers and agencies, these organizations are manifesting their destinies by means of the wallet.

The problem is the wallet can only hold a snapshot size mentality which limits the scope of the whole picture. They need to step back and take in what is really important. Their pencil of idealism is missing the point. The advent of cable and satellite networking has given America the same foundation it was built upon. Choices.

Choices are not only what free thinking consumers want, but demand. Cable and satellite networking do more than feed our inbred psyche of diversity. It has become one of the greatest educational tools of modern times. The myriad of alternative broadcasting has provided a prime source of information for medicine, health, history, culture, financial business, world news, inspiration, etc... The list goes on and on. Even do-it-yourself homeowners and future aviators have their own channels, for Pete’s sake. Not to mention the ethnic programming that gives various minority groups a chance to rectify the indignation of long being discarded by broadcast TV. The idiot box no more!

A multi-channel visual textbook at the tip of your fingers. With alternative programming, of course, comes the inclusion of networks based on mature themes. Naysayers claim this is what puts our children at risk. They say the burden of blocking these channels should not be put on the consumer or that programming should sold a la carte'. Not only is this technically and financially not feasible, but isn't the bottom line for the parents to take responsibility and monitor what their child sees and hears? In all aspects of life. In the absurdity of today's finger pointing reasoning, one would rather blame a network exec for what is seen in their household than be accountable themselves. (Of course, ol’ Tipper Gore would have you believe that this generation's parental skills are directly correlated to the Ozzy and Judas Priest records of the 80’s they grew up on.)

In this day and age computers have become a pervasive form of learning by children. It’s not just Sesame Street anymore. Should we condemn the internet for the bad apples out there, or praise it for the undeniable wealth of knowledge it bestows? Do you blame any misappropriations in the church on the religion? With networks targeted toward the young such as Nickelodeon and Disney garnering the highest ratings on cable and satellite programming, obviously the public majority has made their choice.

Now that we have a private sector trying to establish their Orwellian control on the various venues of the media, who will be the Big Brother that decides what is offensive or indecent? Who will be the judge? Would they rule that a Catholic-based network is harmful to an Atheist family? Should there be no newscasts about the war in Iraq due to the sex and violence? Would a "Saved by the Bell" rerun be considered offensive for what it does to my intelligence? Again, nobody forced me to watch it, I made the choice.

Censorship has been an on-going debate since the conception of entertainment. (Wasn't that Larry Flynt I heard snickering somewhere?) A whole generation somehow survived the gyrations of Elvis, even without therapy. History has showed us time and time again, that a few select groups will not dictate the wants of the masses. Reducing the number of alternatives will not create a breeding ground for conformity, but one of competition. The Howard Sterns of the world can be temporarily curtailed, but the replacement of watered down corporate formats will have the audience searching for something more. Just as satellite TV installed us with new choices, so will satellite radio. And so on. Squash one ant hill of media, another will pop up. Most likely bigger and better. Never to worry I say, censorship doesn't eliminate freedom. It perpetuates capitalism. You may not agree with what I have to say, but the best part is, you have that choice.

Contact Michael DeRose: derose@digitalsyndicate.tv
DSN Media columnist and Broadcaster.
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