The Parents Television Council is seeking publicity about the fact that some of its Utah members have filed petitions with the Federal Communications Commission to revoke the broadcast license of CBS-owned KUTV-Ch. 2, based on the halftime show of the 2004 Super Bowl and a 2004 episode of "Without a Trace."
It won't succeed. Nor should it.
I could go file my own petition today. You could go file your own petition tomorrow. That doesn't mean the act has any merit.
I hesitate to write about this for fear it will give the PTC the publicity it craves.
The PTC would like you to believe it is an independent group of civic-minded individuals who want only what's best for all of us. And I don't doubt the sincerity of many of its members.
But it's not a grassroots organization. It's a subsidiary of the Media Research Group, which, under the leadership of L. Brent Bozell III, is as politically partisan as any in our nation's capital.
I usually toss PTC mailings in the trash unopened and delete their e-mails unread, but I once paid a good deal of attention to what the group had to say. And I frequently came away disgusted because the PTC's descriptions of program content were so distorted and misleading.
Those distortions are sometimes nothing short of out-and-out lies. And that's not just my opinion, it's an established fact.
Six years ago, the MRC and the PTC were sued by World Wrestling Entertainment for illegally appropriating WWE footage and falsely claiming in a fund-raising video that advertisers had at PTC's urging pulled their advertising from WWE shows. The advertisers PTC cited never sponsored WWE.
That's minor when one considers that in the same case the PTC also falsely asserted that the WWE was responsible for the deaths of four children, supposedly killed while kids were imitating behavior they saw on WWE programs. Bozell admitted the lie when after a court refused to dismiss the WWE's lawsuit the MRC and the PTC coughed up $3.5 million in a settlement.
"It was wrong to have stated or implied that the WWE or any of its programs caused these tragic deaths," Bozell said.
It's kind of tough to be a moral watchdog when you act unethically, isn't it?
I'm all in favor of Americans making their views about TV content known to producers, network executives, advertisers and the Federal Communications Commission, as long as they accurately represent program content. But the PTC has subverted that process of the 240,000 complaints made to the FCC in 2003, 99.8 percent were generated by the PTC. So when then-FCC chairman Michael Powell insisted there had been a "dramatic rise" in complaints, it was a sham.
More people should take advantage of their right to make their views known. But the process was not designed so that one politically motivated group could wield such undue influence.
I know I'm going to get slammed with e-mails and letters to the editor over this column. No, I'm not in favor of smutty TV. Yes, I am in favor of parents controlling what their kids watch on TV. Yes, I wish TV executives were more responsible.
I've been writing columns like that for more than 16 years, beginning half a decade before the PTC was founded.But the last thing any of us needs is a politically motivated group dictating to the rest of us what we can and cannot watch.
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