The U.S Senate voted today to increase fines for indecency in the media. The fine per infraction has been raised to a maximum of $325,000 which is TEN TIMES the previous maximum. This fine is applied not to the single “incident” but to every instance as it is broadcast. So, say 100 television stations broadcast something that some folks feel is indecent of offends them. Each station receives the fine, not the network.
It’s not just television and radio that is affected by what’s been going on the past 2 – 3 years (or longer). Those are only two media outlets that are receiving the bulk of attention. What about magazines, newspapers? When does this begin to spill over into art galleries and theaters and books? What about the internet and personal or business web sites? If someone comes to my website or my blog and reads or sees something they think is objectionable, will I eventually be faced with the possibility of a fine?
As a photographer, if a photograph of mine is used in a magazine to illustrate an editorial article about strip clubs and the image used causes some folks to complain and the magazine is fined am I also liable as the person who created the photograph? Is it possible I (or others) could be in the future and expect to pay all or a portion of some multi-million dollar fine? Imagine a magazine article going out to 250,000 or more readers. Even a fine of $1 per instance (250,000) would put most individuals out of business, if the structure of the fine was consistent with how it is applied to radio and television.
Here’s the scary part:
“In areas of programming content, we believe responsible self-regulation by all media companies is preferable to government regulation,” National Association of Broadcasters’ Dennis Wharton told the Los Angeles Times.
When the media is “self-regulated” by huge global telecoms that control the majority of informational content you and I receive on TV, radio, in newspapers, magazines, and on the internet, do you think that “self-regulation” will be objective despite the rally against ultra-conservative government oversight?
“It’s time that broadcast indecency fines represent a real economic penalty and not just a slap on the wrist,” Kansas’ Republican Senator Sam Brownback, the bill’s sponsor, said.
And how come all this righteous crusading for decency has suddenly become the “thing to do” when there are more important fish to fry? Speaking of fish, how come there isn’t such an outcry for “real economic penalty” for corporations (some publicly traded) that are doing more harm to the environment (locally, regionally, globally, to both private and public areas) than any television or radio program will ever do to the moral fiber of our citizens?