Minow, Fowler, Quello Plead: Curb FCC Indecency Regs


A trio of former FCC chairmen, including Newton Minow, the iconic critic of TV content and Mark Fowler, a symbol of deregulation, joined to ask the Supreme Court to strip the FCC of its power to regulate indecency entirely, calling it a "Victorian crusade."

Former Democratic chairman Minow may have famously dubbed TV a "vast wasteland" back in the 1960s, but he is ready to let TV programmers in this century have more say over content if the alternative is the current FCC.

Seconding that opinion was former Republican chairman Mark Fowler, who once likened TV to a toaster with pictures and became a symbol of the deregulatory 1980s.

"It is time for the Court to bring its views of the electronic media into alignment with contemporary technological and social reality," they said. And that means getting the FCC entirely out of the business of regulating indecent content, they added. Also weighing in on a brief was James Quello, the longest-serving commissioner, a former chairman and a moderate Democrat.

They say the FCC "has radically expanded the definition of indecency beyond its original conception; magnified the penalties for even minor, ephemeral images or objectionable language; and targeted respected television programs, movies and even noncommercial documentaries." Other former FCC officials also filed briefs criticizing the FCC's actions.