PTC Is Bleeping Happy With CBS Grammy Coverage

On the eve of Super Bowl weekend, and less than three weeks before oral argument in the rehearing of the FCC fine of CBS over the Janet Jackson/Justin Timberlake halftime show reveal, the Parents Television Councl has fired off a letter to thank it for its coverage of the Grammys.

It was PTC's complaints against CBS and Jackson back in 2004 that helped drive the FCC's crackdown on fleeting indecency, that and swearing on an awards show -- NBC's Golden Globes).

But in this case, it was the lack of swearing that drew PTC's attention.

"I know that you and the folks at CBS are accustomed to hearing from the PTC only when we're particularly concerned or upset about something that aired," PTC president Tim Winter wrote CBS executive vice president Marty Franks, according to a copy of the letter obtained by Multichannel News. "But when something positive like this happens, it is only right that we thank you. so...thank you."

PTC said CBS had "struck an excellent balance" that both "honored the artists and their creativity" and "demonstrated respect for the large number of families in the audience."

With rap numbers and the unpredictable Lady GaGa in the lineup, CBS bleepers were kept busy during some portions of the Jan. 31 show (post-Jackson/Golden Globes, "live" awards shows are routinely on a several-second delay for just that purpose).

"The network's effort to ensure a safe broadcast for families was an excellent demonstration of corporate responsibility," Winter said.

CBS was criticized by Fordham Media Professor Paul Levinson, who told the Los Angeles Times that history would look "with ridicule upon CBS' ham-handed handling of the Grammys."

Winter came to CBS' defense, saying Levinson "seems not to grasp the concept of a broadcaster's public interest obligations..."

The letter comes even as NBC is looking to scrap its tape delay for Emmys after removing it for the Golden Globes last month. But before PTC starts firing off a more typical correspondence with a network, the delay in question is not the brief one for content, but the time-zone delay for feeds of the awards shows to the Western time zones, where they have historically been shifted to prime time.

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.