U.S. bishops urge FCC to adapt rules so public can oppose indecency

U.S. broadcasters should be required to maintain archives of the programs they air and make them easily available in order to make it easier for the public to oppose indecent programming, says the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The change was proposed to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in a testimony prepared by USCCB assistant general counsel Katherine G. Grincewich Aug. 27 in Washington.

The FCC’s current procedure for indecency complaints puts the initial burden on listeners and viewers to obtain a transcript from the broadcaster of the program at issue, Grincewich explained. However, it does not require the broadcaster to provide the program when requested by the listener or viewer.

This “inhibits the appropriate enforcement of indecency rules,” said Grincewich, since it prevents the public from acquiring evidence that indecent material has been aired. Without a transcript or tape, the FCC is forced to make its decision based on a listener’s or viewer’s memory alone.

This situation is “unfair to the complainant, the broadcaster and the Commission,” Grincewich added.

On behalf of the USCCB, she also urged the FCC to do more to require broadcasters to serve the public interest of the local communities that they are licensed to serve.

The FCC should require broadcasters to “determine the needs and interests of their communities of license, air at least a minimum amount of public affairs, news and independently produced programs which meet those needs and interests, and report to the public their actions,” Grincewich said.

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