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assault on good taste or concern over the protection of children from adult mate-
The fear and intolerance driven by the events of September 11
were palatable
in the new wave of self-censorship. As one label executive said, "The current state
of culture is different. It is an election year and no one wants to be made an
example of."
"It's absurd," said Lou Reed of the new wave of conservativism among pro-
grammers. "It's like being censored by a squirrel. It's beneath me, it's beneath all
these artists. It's done by people who are very pious and stupid."
Unlike other waves of public discord since September 11
, the sensitivity
towards broadcast content has not dissipated many television radio stations,
including news outlets, are now demonstrating strong conservatism towards pro-
gramming. The most infamous example of this was during the fall of 2004, when
the ABC television network planned to broadcast the movie Saving Private Ryan .
Several ABC affiliates decided against airing the movie because of the violence
and subject matter depicted in the contemporary World War II drama, fearing
reprisal from the FCC.
The number of indecency complaints to the FCC has skyrocketed over the past
several years. In 2000 and 2001, the FCC received only 350 complaints in each
year. In 2002, the number rose to 14,000. By 2003, the number had exploded to
240,000. In 2004, the FCC receive more than one million complaints about the
appropriateness of television and radio content. However, when analyzed by
Todd Shields of MediaWeek , it was revealed that 99.8% of the complaints filed in
2003 and 2004 came from one group the Parents Television Council , a conserva-
tive media watchdog organization that organized massive grassroots letter writing
campaigns meant to rid media of undesirable programming.
According to Jonathan Rintels , executive director of the Center for Creative
Voices in Media, "It means that really a tiny minority with a very focused political
agenda is trying to censor American television and radio ."
In the case of a $1.2 million fine against the Fox television network because of
what the FCC described as "a mass of public complaints" was actually the result
of only 23 individuals filing repeated complaints out of a broadcast audience of
5.1 million.