Tuesday, January 16, 2007

FOX Network goes out of its way to offend viewers.

I don't generally act on American Family Association "Action Alerts", and often I don't even read them. I do support their core goals, but I'm not as focused on general issues of "offensiveness" as they are, since I'd rather simply turn off the TV than fight it.

But as they noted in their last newsletter, there are times when the broadcast networks seem to go out of their way to offend people, just for the fun of it. As they explain it:

It used to be that you could sit down and watch an evening football game with your children without fear of them being exposed to inappropriate material. Sadly, that's no longer the case as was proven Saturday night during the Fox broadcast of the NFL playoff game between the New Orleans Saints and the Philadelphia Eagles.

During a cutaway shot to the stadium spectators, the camera focused directly on a woman wearing a t-shirt clearly inscribed with the words "F--k Da Eagles" (without the dashes). The shot stayed focused on the woman and her shirt for several seconds. There can be no doubt that this was an intentional airing of patently offensive language on the public airwaves, as the person wearing the profane t-shirt was culled by Fox Network's broadcast crew from more than 70,000 spectators in the stadium. The camera operator selected that particular woman and the director and/or producers of the event made an affirmative and conscious decision to air the shot from that particular camera, forcing the f-word into millions of homes. Furthermore, the v-chip would not and could not have protected children and families from the type of content evidenced here.

The last reference is to the "v-chip", technology built into every modern TV to allow you to block offensive content. It does so using ratings sent out with the broadcasts, based on settings determined by the owner of the television -- an excellent example of government enabling individual responsibility with a minimum of interference.

But the technology only works if the broadcast is correctly rated. And the rating on a football game is not suitable for deliberate display of patently offensive language, such as that displayed on the t-shirt.

Note that this is not an inadvertent display such as you might expect from the coverage of a live event. It wasn't a football player making an offensive gesture at the spur of the moment, or a streaker running across the field of play -- this was a cut-away shot of the crowd, a shot that was certainly chosen ahead of time by the camera operator who focused on the female, and then fed into the broadcast by the choice of the director of the broadcast. There is no doubt they chose this precisely because of the looks of the female, and the message on her t-shirt.

I'm not writing to the FCC to complain about this. But I can understand why people WOULD write about this -- it's a slap in the face to those of us who DO exercise our personal responsibility, and expect the networks to at least pretend to take their ratings and their responsibilities seriously.

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