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NBC's "Family-Friendly Viewing" Crosses the Line, Declares Prof. Jeff McCall '76

NBC's "Family-Friendly Viewing" Crosses the Line, Declares Prof. Jeff McCall '76

May 31, 2008

Jeff McCall 2006.jpgMay 31, 2008, Greencastle, Ind. - "If NBC thinks that this is the kind of show that families gather to watch, the cultural divide between the 'entertainment' industry and the majority of Americans is massive," writes Jeffrey M. McCall in today's Providence Journal. Dr. McCall, professor of communication at DePauw University, examines a recent episode of 30 Rock, which aired during the network's designated "family hour." "Clearly, network television is trying to make a statement to the FCC and the federal courts about what content should be allowed on broadcast airwaves, which are publicly owned."

McCall notes, "The media watchdog group Parents Television Council (PTC) publicly commended NBC television last month when the network announced plans to make the 8-9 p.m. hour a time for family-friendly viewing." However, the professor notes, days later the peacock network aired a 30 Rock program that featured a mock TV Set Man.jpgreality show, "MILF Island."

"NBC's idea of family viewing includes a sexy mother taking off her bikini top (with some digital blurring) in front of eighth-grade boys, and the cast of 30 Rock making obscene hand gestures that blurring fails to really hide," asserts McCall. "NBC's family-oriented dialogue includes such family-funny lines as 'erection cove,' 'eating bugs to earn tampons' and 'what the frak?,' an obvious attempt to substitute a word not currently on the Federal Communications Commission's sanction list for one that is."

McCall, a 1976 graduate of DePauw, is author of Viewer Discretion Advised: Taking Control of Mass Media Influences. He points out, "The networks and their activist professional organizations are spending millions of dollars fighting federal laws that prohibit indecentMcCall Book Viewer Discretion.jpg and profane communication on broadcast airwaves ... NBC and FOX are appealing decisions related to indecent utterances by celebrities on live awards broadcasts. The matter of so-called 'fleeting expletives' will be heard by the Supreme Court next fall. Many other cases are bottled up at the FCC, pending guidance from these eventual court decisions ... The upcoming Supreme Court decision about fleeting expletives could settle this tug of war for years to come. The court could rule broadly, either supporting the FCC's indecency enforcement or allowing broadcasters to receive First Amendment protection for such content. If the court rules narrowly, however, focusing just on the occasional unscripted bad word, this argument will carry on."

Access the complete column at the College News.org.

In a March 29 op-ed, Jeff McCall wrote that reviving the Fairness Doctrine "would be an ineffective and perhaps unconstitutional remedy to limit the reach of such political-talk-show hosts as Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham." Details can be found in this previous story.

Source: Providence (R.I.) Journal