Sumner Redstone, the chairman of Viacom and CBS, took aim at the FCC last week, charging that its indecency crusade is undemocratic and causing a great deal of fear among those working in the TV industry.
In a speech to the Media Institute in Washington, D.C., Redstone said the FCC’s harsh fines against what it considered indecent content were doing more harm than good.
He said that the industry had found itself “in a world where, increasingly and alarmingly, a couple thousand form complaints from people condemning shows that they have never watched can result in an indecency fine 10 times higher than an year ago.”
These same form complaints can lead regulators to dictate business models that ultimately do more harm than good, he said, creating a world where “entertainment and news executives, musicians and artists are living in a great deal of fear.”
Redstone noted that FCC data showed that two groups generated the majority of indecency complaints lodged at the commission: the Parents Television Council and the American Family Association.
If the public is not happy with a particular program, then they won’t watch it, and it will go off the air, Redstone said. Government censorship, he continued, is not only unconstitutional, but is a power that can be easily abused by the government.
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