ENDANGERED FREEDOM ALERTS
Number 1 September 18, 1997
FCC MOVES TO CONTROL THE CONTENT OF TELEVISION PROGRAMS
by Fulton Huxtable
In an ominous move, the FCC has now grabbed new power over the content of television programs. I issued a warning about this in Chapter 4 and said the following:
"If you are still unable to make yourself believe that America will ever arrive at the point at which it will be criminal to express certain ideas, you had better think again: it has already happened. Beating the anti-smoking statists to the punch, statists at the FCC issued a hair-raising decree, effective September 1, 1997, dictating television networks must air three hours a week of so-called "educational" shows for children—in other words, networks must now broadcast three hours each week of programs which have a certain content ("educational") which meets the approval of the FCC. While the FCC edict did not specifically establish a board of censors for these programs, they effectively accomplished the same thing through an indirect, backdoor method: networks must demonstrate to the FCC that they have met this requirement to broadcast these "educational" programs when it comes time to have their licenses renewed. If the FCC decides that the content of the programs has not been "educational," then the FCC has the power to yank the license of the network, effectively bringing the content of these programs under the control of these FCC statists. If a given network is denied renewal of its license on the grounds its programs were not "educational," this means the ideas expressed in these programs were such that they did not fulfill the network’s legal requirement to produce these so-called "educational" programs—which means: the ideas were illegal (i.e., criminal). Networks, scrambling to protect themselves when it comes time to renew their license, have hired panels of experts to review their scripts in order to ensure that these scripts contain the appropriate "educational" content, making these experts an unofficial, yet de facto, board of censors, making certain the networks comply with the FCC decree. According to an Associated Press story (August 31, 1997), referring to the producer of "Doug," a cartoon show, "Now his scripts must pass muster with a team of Harvard educators who have another concern: Will children learn?" Given the fact the FCC statists have accomplished all of this with such ease, with no visible opposition, statists will be encouraged to move, in the not-too-distant future, to extend their power to control the content (ideas) contained in all children’s programs and then it will eventually extend to all network programs, whether they are for children or not."