It probably will not surprise you to learn that the FCC has seen a massive surge in the number of viewer complaints it receives. In 2000 and 2001, the FCC received an average of about 350 complaints a year. If you filter out the “I may be nuts, but I have an envelope and some stamps” crowd, that rounds down to around, well, zero.
In 2003, the numbers of complaints received by the FCC rose to about 240,000.
Now that might seem like a pretty unlikely and massive shift in either the material being aired or the society experiencing those broadcasts. Well, it is unlikely. In fact, it didn’t really happen.
If you take Janet Jackson’s nipple out of the equation (and god knows we’d all like to at this point), 99.8% of all complaints to the FCC this year have come from a single organization: the Parents Television Council.
So here’s the rub. The folks at the FCC know that there is no broad public movement related to the content that’s being broadcast on the public airwaves. They know this is all about the organizational and lobbying efforts of a single group. And yet, they’ve still cracked down on what they tell us the nation deems obscene.
So whose indecency is really being exposed?