FCC Gets Earful on Jackson

Web site The Smoking Gun (www.thesmokinggun.com) forked over a couple hundred bucks to the Federal Communications Commission for some 1,500 examples of the complaints against the Super Bowl halftime.

What it found, according to the site, is that none of the complaining e-mails it got access to were sent the night of the game. Instead, concluded the site, "it wasn¡¦t until the American Family Association and other conservative groups began screaming that the FCC¡¦s mailbox began to swell."

The groundswell of complaints has been cited by regulators and legislators as justification for the current crackdown on indecency. But some argue that all it takes is one or two committed groups and a few computers to generate the hundreds of thousand of complaints that in less techno-friendly times would be incontrovertible evidence of widespread disaffection.

Some of the complaints dashed off to the FCC (with their original grammar, spelling, and punctuation):

„h "i am anything but a prude i have owned a strip club and a adult site but this isn¡¦t about 1st amendment rights this is just pure lack of respect for american families and decency"

„h "The halftime during the Super Bowl showed Janet Jackson¡¦s exposed breast, Jackson grabbing her breasts, Sean P. Diddy repeatedly fondling his crotch, striptease cheerleaders, gyrating transvestites, simulated lesbian sex, and Jackson and Timberlake groping each other. I demand that each CBS station be fined the max."

„h "I, my wife, and our family, friends and the people in the chruch I pastor demand you and all FCC authorities to take action agains Janet Jackson and that clown that pulled her shirt down... Fine them, imprison them along with the majority, if not all national news media including ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS."

While most were complaints about Jackson, a few were jibes directed at the government¡¦s reaction, like this one:

"Thank you for supporting the superiority of men. Only men should be allowed to bare their chests on American television. ¡K As we all know, women¡¦s chests are grotesque-men¡¦s chests are beautiful. We must do everything possible to thwart this equality of the sexes. ¡K Women should not be allowed to vote either."

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.