L. Brent Bozell III wants to control what
you know. Though he is not an elected government official, Bozell
believes he has America’s best interests at heart and has
made it his goal to clean up the airwaves. Bozell is the founder
and president of the Media Research Center and the president of the
Parents Television Council.

Sravya Chirumamilla

The MRC states it is “one of the most popular and
comprehensive conservative sites in America” and claims to be
a media watchdog. It funds studies that find that ABC, CBS and NBC
are partisan tools and not objective observers for
“pound(ing) Bush, but protecting draft-dodging Clinton from
the ‘Willie Horton Crowd.’”

PTC recounts its victories in various campaigns to remove
certain programming from the airwaves. Recently, PTC launched a
campaign against FX’s “Nip/Tuck,” a graphic show
depicting plastic surgery. The Wall Street Journal reported that
the show was “the most-watched new show on basic cable,
averaging 3.4 million viewers.” However, thanks to the PTC,
this highly acclaimed show could not maintain its advertisers.
Forty-six advertisers pulled their advertisements from airing on
“Nip/Tuck” after PTC launched a massive campaign
against it.

The group’s website brags, “In a solid show of the
power of the PTC efforts, more than 14 advertisers called the PTC
office and said as a direct result of our efforts, they
re-evaluated their media buys and pulled their advertisements off
‘Nip/Tuck.’” These remarks are embellished with
boasts like, “That’s the power of the PTC!”

The website is filled with history lessons as well as press
releases admonishing liberal shows and praising the Best of the
Week, which was amusingly “Joan of Arcadia,” a show in
which God communicates to a teenager. More prominently, the website
features a direct link to file a complaint against a program
through the Federal Communications Commission.

The PTC has had a substantial effect with these complaints. PTC
has joined with the Traditional Values Coalition, which discusses
in length such things like how “three experts on marriage
have recently explained why a federal amendment to the Constitution
is the only way of ultimately protecting marriage from
homosexuals” to pressure both Congress and the FCC.

After the Super Bowl halftime show, PTC and TVC joined
legislators such as House Telecommunications subcommittee chairman
U.S. Rep. Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph) in demanding heavy fines
against CBS, MTV and Viacom. It wasn’t just the content of
the Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake incident that had
conservatives up in arms. Federal Communications Commission
chairman Michael Powell noted on “Good Morning America”
that he “personally was offended by the entire
production,” which included performances by P. Diddy and
Nelly.

The subsequent months included a backlash with fines against the
Howard Stern show — the investigation of which was incited by
a complaint from a Detroit listener. MTV was forced to temporarily
pull seven videos from rotation. While six of them were banned for
sexual content such as a same-sex kiss, “Rolling Stone”
reports that “one of the videos was singled out for political
content: Incubus’s ‘Megalomaniac’ included clips
of Hitler and people drinking oil.”

While the FCC explains that the First Amendment does not protect
obscene speech, it notes that the third part of a test to measure
obscenity requires that “the material, taken as a whole, must
lack serious literary, artistic, political or scientific
value.”

That conservatives take issue with social issues, such as
same-sex marriage or black artists, though lacking in logic, is
neither new nor surprising. But that they have the power to limit
artistic interpretation of political actions is nothing short of
appalling.

Youth programs, especially those that express political
messages, are necessary for a generation of apathetic citizens. It
is imperative that in conjunction with providing informative venues
such as Rock the Vote and Youth Vote Coalition, artistic and
political expressions be encouraged on our airwaves.

That MTV succumbed to the conservative pressure sets a dangerous
precedent for political messages to come. By stunting the
information the youth receives, the conservatives have managed to
choke off political discourse in our generation. Until viewers
become as indignant as the organized powers such as MRC, PTC and
TVC, there is no means to stand up to the bullying that is stifling
our freedoms.

Chirumamilla can be reached at
“mailto:schiruma@umich.edu”>schiruma@umich.edu.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *