What happened to the First Amendment?

Posted Apr 09, 2004 in Media.

Clear Channel Communications has permanently removed shock jock Howard Stern from the air, after the FCC fined Clear Channel $495,000 for indecent content. I cannot understand how this action can possibly be in the FCC's mandate. Surely it is a violation of the First Amendment? Let me remind you of the text:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

I feel as if civil liberty is being infringed all the time now. First Amendment rights are being ignored with this latest revelation, and with the attempt by those in power to exert religious control; and some of our freedoms have been taken away from us by the Patriot Act. Is anyone else finding all this a little bit scary?


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    <em>"Congress shall make no law respecting.."</em> The FCC is not the Congress... :-) I guess the FCC has its own regulations which every station abides with when they get the permit to operate...

    Posted by David Collantes on Apr 09, 2004.

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    The FCC isn't Congress, but Congress makes the law and the FCC is supposed to follow it.

    Posted by Simon Jessey on Apr 11, 2004.

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    Patriot Act? Yeah, VERY scary. It basically gives the US govt. the power to invade anyone's privacy that THEY deem a threat to national security. There is no such thing as real privacy anymore, at least in the govt's eyes.

    I think the Howard Stern/FCC incident involves just a little more than his normal on-air shtick. Once he announced he was anti-Bush the FCC jumped on him and Clear Channel. Big Brother IS watching... and listening too.

    Posted by Curt Granger on Apr 12, 2004.

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    So, do you think that anything, at anytime, should be able to be aired on public airwaves? Do you have kids? I just don't see the issue with the airwaves being kept clean (and I am very far from being a prude, so don't assume that).

    I also think it's crazy to think that the FCC is doing this because Stern spoke out against bush, yeah Stern wants you to think that because he's a showman.

    I am 100% hehind free speech, it's one of the few things I'd die for, but there is a limit. Remember, Stern is not doing this because he's making some big statement, he's doing it for ratings.

    I agree, it's a slippery slope, but a free-for-all on the public airwaves is not the answer.

    Posted by Ron on Apr 12, 2004.

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    I used to live in the UK, and there we had a simple system known as the "watershed". After 9pm, it was okay for broadcasters to deliver unedited content - such as an R-rated movie. After 11pm, it was pretty much okay to broadcast anything at all, until around 5am.

    Now it seems to me that although not perfect, that system really works well. Most kids too young to be seeing/hearing adult material would be in bed by 9pm, and those kids who weren't were simply policed by their parents. Obviously, one or two "iffy" bits of material got through the net, but by and large the British broadcasters were fine at policing themselves. I don't know if the same system is in place now, but it was 3 years ago.

    If youngsters are watching/listening to crude broadcasts, it is not the fault of the broadcaster - it is the fault of the parent. I think a broadcasting "free-for-all" CAN work if stations can follow the simple guidelines employed in the UK. Obviously this does not apply to restricted/subscription channels, which should be able to broadcast whatever they choose, whenever they choose.

    Of course Howard Stern has milked it for all he's worth - I would have done the same thing if I was in his position. The main problem is that he was fined for playing Oprah's material, but Oprah wasn't fined herself. That means that the FCC is selecting targets, which is not part of its mandate at all.

    Incidentally, I note that the Howard Stern website has been extensively redesigned. It looks (and works) better - shame it wasn't designed with web standards though :(

    Posted by Simon Jessey on Apr 13, 2004.