In his first major speech as the new president of the NAB, David Rehr said Monday that the broadcast media have to emphasize parental control and defend the First Amendment, but he also said they have "no objection to playing by the decency rules" so long as Congress and the FCC will draw the lines more clearly.
"The FCC's recent indecency fines [a package of proposed fines and findings against TV shows for language and sexual situations] did little to clarify these rules," he said. "We need clearer guidance from the FCC and Congress on where the lines are drawn."
While Rehr told an NAB opening-session crowd that they "cannot forget the importance of the First Amendment," and that NAB will "defend it wholeheartedly," he also threw in a caveat saying: "No one should imply that protecting the First Amendment is tantamount to promoting the right to be obscene."
The distinction between obscenity and indecency, however, is that the media have no protection from obscenity, which is illegal, while indecency is protected speech, though currently channeled to times of day when the FCC considers kids least likely to be tuning in (10 p.m. to 6 a.m.).
Rehr said the NAB's focus would be on parental control, however. "When it comes to the issue of indecency," he said, "the NAB is going to play a leading role to maximize one of America’s most fundamental axioms – the need for personal responsibility. We will empower people to make good choices based upon their own tastes and values."
He also said that the industry needs to turn the focus away from itself and more toward satellite radio: "On the radio side, the FCC needs to pay more attention to the obscenity and vulgarity that has found its home on satellite radio."
Somewhat ironically, his speech was coming at about the same time the CBS Radio was teaming with XM Satellite radio to return shock jocks Opie & Anthony to CBS Radio (fortunately Infinity).
The two companies simulcast a drive time show (6-9 a.m.) that will air both on satellite radio--uncensored--and on seven major CBS stations,--edited--including New York.
The two jocks were fired from Infinity's WNEW(FM) after the now-famous "sex in St. Patrick's" radio stunt, which drew a $357,000 fine from the FCC.