He was speaking at the National Association of broadcasters (NAB)
summit on responsible programming. He said that competitive pressures
much more than media consolidation were the reasons for more programming
that tested the limits of indecency and violence. "As audience continues
to fragment and the number of choices multiplies, it is harder and
harder to grab and hold a viewer or listener."
He issued a warning saying that it would not be intelligent for
groups to ask the FCC to make a rule to create more clarity as to
what was prohibited. "I want to warn you that this is unwise. You
do not want to ask the government to write a "Red Book" of Dos and
Don'ts. I understand the complaint about knowing where the line
is, but heavier government entanglement through a "Dirty Conduct
Code" will not only chill speech, it may deep freeze it. It might
create an ice age that would last a very long time."
Talking about the challenges facing the US broadcast industry he
mentioned the ongoing debate about media ownership. " In addition,
the competitive pressures from other media sources continue to dramatically
fragment audiences. Competition continues to grow stronger from
cable and satellite, but we are also seeing the use of advanced
technology to create many other platforms that folks turn to for
entertainment, information and news. The rise of satellite radio,
the Internet, video gaming and, of course, TiVo with its ever-so-popular
30-second skip feature all have combined to present sharp threats
to traditional broadcasting."
Seeking to provide perspective on why the Super Bowl incident set
off a chain reaction he said, "The debate it unleashed is not really
about a bare breast. What really upset people was the shock and
amazement that such material would appear on that programme at that
time, without warning, and without any reasonable expectation that
they would see such a thing.
"In other words, the debate is not best understood as one
about what you can do or cannot do on radio or television. Rather,
it is more about whether consumers can rely on reasonable expectations
about the range of what they will see on a given programme at a
FCC commissioner Michael Copps also dwelt on the importance of
a voluntary code. He said, " I believe the industry could come together
and craft a new code, perfectly able to pass court muster, and one
that would serve the needs of businesses as well as those of concerned
families. Also broadcasters could commit to family hours during
prime time. More diversity in programme development and programme
sourcing could also help.
"This would mean more independently-produced programs. And
you need to include in your deliberations what public interest standards
you think appropriate for the new world of multi-casting that digital
television is already beginning to bring us."
Talking about the reasons for the rise in indecency in addition
to the market pressures he said that the regulatory commission charged
with keeping this race from happening abdicated its enforcement
responsibilities and thus created a climate wherein indecency could
flourish. "If the agency charged with putting the brakes on has
no credibility with those who are programming indecency-if it commands
no respect on the issue because it runs away from the issue-is it
any wonder that the envelope gets pushed farther and farther out?"