MICHAEL POWELL’S FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION is becoming an engine of censorship; a destroyer of a dynamic, innovation-rich IT ecosystem; a supporter of new telecommunications monopolies; and an advocate of civil society-stifling media concentration.
Saving Private Ryan has just been pulled from airing on ABC affiliates. The president of one such affiliate, Raymond Cole, in Des Moines, Iowa stated:
Would the FCC conclude that the movie has sufficient social, artistic, literary, historical or other kinds of value that would protect us from breaking the law? With the current FCC, we just don’t know.
The key issue in this case is ambiguity. Because of the erratic behavior and fines the FCC has imposed on entertainers such as Howard Stern, while essentially turning a blind eye to what Sinclair Broadcasting had intended to do with an anti-Kerry infomercial, very few broadcasters know what they can show and not.
Uncertainty is not good in broadcasting. Power can easily get abused when subjectivity becomes too much a part of a regulatory order. Michael Powell is creating a climate of fear in broadcasting and is doing the same in nearly all of the areas the FCC currently regulates.
Michael Powell needs to be retired, President Bush. America needs to be dynamic, innovative, concerned with public morality of course (nod to Senator Lieberman), but not at the expense of what is most important in our culture.
If Saving Private Ryan cannot air on television without fear of retribution while dozens of groteque Fox and other cable shows can air (and yes, I know about the single fine against a Fox show recently), then there is something rotten and wrong at the FCC.
— Steve Clemons