Fox News Channel Critic Opens Second Front for a la Carte

Veteran Fox News Channel critic Robert Greenwald (Outfoxed) opened a second front in his campaign against the top-rated cable news channel, this time aiming to get advertisers to drop their sponsorships.

Citing the viewership to his previous video broadside against Fox News, which got more than 500,000 views, Greenwald is launching another online video on YouTube Thursday called "Fox News Porn." None of the content is actually explicit, but it does include bikini-clad women and blurred nudity.

The video is a parody of a porn flick using skin-heavy footage that Greenwald said was culled from Fox News over a six-month period (the dates for some of the screen grabs used is unknown since it was supplied from outside sources). It is similar to footage he used in the first video, which called for Web surfers to petition the Federal Communications Commission to impose a la carte.

Fox News was not available for comment.

The online petition drew more than 23,000 signatures and will be sent to the FCC when Greenwald can figure out the best way to deliver it. "If you saw The New York Times a few days ago," he told B&C, "a la carte is now back on the table from [FCC chairman Kevin Martin], and we want to do it in the most effective way."

This time, Greenwald also created a Web site to mimic an online porn site.

But Greenwald has targeted Fox News before. Does the top-rated cable news channel put on that much more skin than CNN or other cable news channels that also have to attract eyeballs to 24-hour news? "Yes," Greenwald said, although he conceded that he has not tried the same exercise with any other outlets.

Greenwald, founder of Brave New Films, said he has a database of advertisers and he wants the video's viewers to "write a letter, make a phone call and contact the national or local advertiser and pass this [video] on to them." He insisted that he is not out to take down the channel, but he said he doesn't want people to be "forced to have it in their homes," and he wants to "create havoc and let the advertisers know this is going on so that they will pull their ads."  That sounds like the same argument and tactics employed by the Parents Television Council.

"We're not saying they should be censored," he said. "We're not saying, 'Fine them.' There should just be a simple choice. There are two issues. We are paying for this, and it is coming into our homes. A la carte handles both of those."

Greenwald conceded that the cable industry might argue that if he had a channel of independent films he was trying to get carriage for, it would be harder in an a la carte world. "They have certain biases," he added. "But I would rather have people make that choice than have [News Corp. chairman] Rupert Murdoch deciding what I should see."

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.