Pre-occupation of the american mind helps divert the real occupation around the globe...if only our outrage could stand for more than indencency of skin on the tube...but then what do americans know about true indecency?
Tuesday April 13, 7:38 AM
Indecency Uproar Taming Network TV
By Michele Gershberg
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Whether you believe it is a new sexual McCarthyism or you see it as a long-awaited campaign against programming that's crossed the line into indecency, U.S. television is about to get toned down.
Broadcasters may stage a retreat from risky shows over the next few seasons as a regulatory campaign to clean up the airwaves gains momentum from election-year politics, media analysts said on Monday.
Even underwear vendors are rethinking how they use sex to sell. Television network CBS confirmed on Monday that the much-hyped Victoria's Secret lingerie fashion show, an annual special, would not air this year.
Shari Anne Brill, director of programming at media buyer Carat USA, said racy programs have not lost their popularity, but networks are becoming more wary of being labeled indecent.
"There will be stricter self-regulatory guidelines because it seems that in this climate, everyone is afraid to cross the line," Brill said.
Provocative programs known to win ratings might receive a partial scrubbing to tone down storylines. Networks may be quicker to scrap weaker shows famed mainly for their shock value and scrutinize new scripts even more closely.
"This new hypersensitivity of the past year or so is changing the content of broadcasting," said Robert Thompson, professor of media and popular culture at Syracuse University. "Right now everybody is looking to take the heat off, turn the public attention down a few notches for a season or two."
Analysts said Victoria's Secret owner Limited Brands appeared keen to avoid negative publicity as Washington boosts indecency fines, especially since its last runway show drew lukewarm ratings and failed to push up sales.
Ed Razek, Victoria's Secret's chief creative officer, said in a statement that although the fashion show served as a powerful marketing tool for the brand, the company constantly challenges itself to develop new ideas.
Razek said the company would focus on its holiday ad campaign as it takes a hiatus from the fashion show.
Industry insiders largely declined to comment on the pressure an anti-indecency campaign could exert on their new program strategies.
But media watchers said the chilling effect of a Federal Communications Commission crackdown -- which radio shock jock Howard Stern has likened to a "McCarthy-type witch hunt" -- is creeping into programming plans.
It is a shift from the past five or six years, when broadcasters have sought to emulate daring and popular shows on cable television -- including HBO's Mafia crime series "The Sopranos" and sexual misadventure story "Sex and the City."
"They're going with a very homogenized, much more family-centric route, moving completely away from the edgy type of content," said media industry commentator Jack Myers. "The ability to take risks and break down established taboos is at an end for now."
Broadcast networks and the media conglomerates that own them, including Viacom, Walt Disney Co. and News Corp., are loath to fight for foul language during a U.S. election year, especially as they seek regulatory concessions on other issues, including ownership laws, analysts said.
Public outrage against televised nudity and foul language mushroomed after singer Janet Jackson's breast was exposed during the Super Bowl telecast in February, adding fuel for raising FCC fines on indecent material.
Some advertisers turned skittish even earlier as protests over perceived indecency gained ground ahead of the 2004 vote.
Youth retailer Abercrombie & Fitch pulled a catalog featuring scantily clad and naked models off store shelves, while automaker Chrysler cut a sponsorship of the "Lingerie Bowl," a televised game of tackle football between models in bras and panties.
Last week, broadcasters got a stronger taste of their vulnerability when the FCC proposed a $495,000 fine against Clear Channel Communications for comments by Howard Stern. Clear Channel had already dropped Stern. (Additional reporting by Jean Scheidnes and Jackie Sindrich)