Networks To FCC: No One’s Watching Our Shows, So Stop Being So Uptight About Decency Standards

Remember the days when basic cable was considered a joke and all the real shows were on the broadcast networks? Back in those days, it sort of made sense that the FCC might care about things like bad language, nudity (and supposedly violence, though that never really seemed to be an issue) on network TV. But now, with the majority of viewers spending their TV-watching time glued to basic cable shows featuring loudmouthed, obnoxious, hateful, “real” people shouting at each other in between commercials, the networks are asking the FCC to lighten the heck up.

Deadline reports that recent FCC filings by the networks try to make the case that, between cable and the Internet, the Big 4 are not really the cultural influencers they once were.

“Americans today, including children, spend more time engaged with non-broadcast channels delivered by cable and satellite television, the Internet, video games and other media than they do with broadcast media,” reads a filing by FOX.

While NBC argues to the FCC that “Broadcast TV is not a uniquely pervasive presence in the lives of 21st Century Americans,” pointing to stats that show network TV only accounted for 28% of TV viewing during the 2010-2011 season, while basic cable accounted for 53%.

And good ol’ CBS sat on its veranda, whittling and lamenting that “the day when a child watching television was almost certain to be watching broadcast television has long since passed.”

Broadcasters did win a minor victory in 2010, when a federal appeals court struck down the FCC rules against unscripted expletives. And in spite of hand-wringing from groups like the Parents Television Council, live TV has not turned into a profane orgy of F-bombs and nipple slips, though that might help the ratings if they tried it.


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