I read with horror the latest issue
(Dec. 2007) of Indiana University's Federal Communications Law Journal. The leading "article" is a transcript of a November 2005 debate among Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Kevin Martin and others about expanding the FCC's regulation of indecency. During the debate, in response to a discussion about radio "shock jocks," Chairman Martin bluntly said, "If you really want to talk about kids, you could hold parents criminally liable
for allowing them access to this . . . that would really protect kids." (p. 25)
Adam Thierer at the Progress & Freedom Foundation did a good job of analyzing
this outrageous proposal, which flies in the face of both the right to freedom of expression and the respected values of individual choice and privacy of the home.
What's also shocking about Chairman Martin's statement is that he wasn't referring to prosecuting parents for allowing their minor children to access indecent broadcast radio programming, but instead to satellite radio programming. It's no secret that the FCC wants to get its regulatory hands on satellite, cable, and even Internet content, but so far Congress and the courts have failed to find a justification for such expanded FCC jurisdiction.
CDT and other First Amendment advocates have argued that, given the increased convergence of media and entertainment technologies (e.g., traditional "broadcast" shows are now available online), the constitutional foundation for the Commission's censorship power is increasingly waning.
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