The Parents Television Council is trying to enlist new
National Association of Broadcasters President Gordon Smith in its fight
against broadcast indecency.
Citing the former Oregon
senator's "strong record of public service on behalf of children and families,"
PTC President Tim Winter (in a letter to Smith supplied to B&C), said he was encouraged by public comments Smith made on
the issue, including to this publication and in a Media Institute speech. But
he also said he found them at odds with stations' pushback on court rulings
upholding FCC enforcement of fleeting profanity and nudity.
"While these comments are both factual and encouraging,
they run contrary to the actions and statements of NAB members in federal
court," wrote Winter. "Consequently, I am unclear as to what the
position of the NAB actually is with regard to the continuation and enforcement
of indecency law."
has said broadcasters are not in the business of being indecent, and that
the price they pay for their spectrum is being responsive to community
standards, likening it to the price ranchers pay to graze their cattle on
But Smith also has said he believes in and values free
speech, and that technological solutions that empower parents can help
broadcasters "balance the First Amendment with the need to be competitive
and the need to empower parents and shield children from things that they ought
not to see." (See related article, "NAB's
Smith Talks Indecency, Retrans.")
Winter points out in the letter that Smith voted for a tenfold
increase in FCC fines.
"I am eager to understand how your recent comments, combined with your
voting record as senator, comport with the actions of members you now represent
at the NAB," Winter wrote.
But Smith has drawn a distinction between that vote--which
he points out was joined by the 99 other senators--and his current charter.
"[My vote] was a reflection of the sentiments of the people I represented.
I now represent the National Association of Broadcasters, and I will help them
with that issue because they don't want to be tagged as promoting indecency.
That is not what they are in business for."
An NAB spokesman declined to comment on the letter.