Broadcast Indecency

April 16, 2004 • Volume 14, Issue 14
Should sexually provocative material be more restricted?
By William Triplett


Radio shock jock Howard Stern has been hit with heavy fines for broadcasting indecency.  (Getty Images/Robin Platzer)
Radio shock jock Howard Stern has been hit with heavy fines for broadcasting indecency. (Getty Images/Robin Platzer)

The supposedly accidental “wardrobe malfunction” that exposed Janet Jackson's right breast during the Super Bowl halftime show shouldn't have surprised anyone. Radio shock jocks like Howard Stern and Bubba the Love Sponge have been pushing the decency envelope for years, and TV has been following suit, raising new complaints about its increasingly risqué — some say indecent — content. Defenders of the media say the First Amendment gives them wide latitude to broadcast sexually provocative material, which simply reflects changing contemporary mores. But critics of today's radio and television content say sexually oriented broadcasting can harm society, especially children. With polls showing that Americans want something done about broadcast content, legislation is now pending in Congress to increase indecency fines dramatically. There is even talk of regulating the cable TV industry.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Apr. 16, 2004  Broadcast Indecency
Mar. 28, 2003  Movie Ratings
Nov. 17, 1995  Sex, Violence and the Media
Feb. 19, 1993  School Censorship
Dec. 20, 1991  The Obscenity Debate
Dec. 07, 1990  Does Cable TV Need More Regulation?
May 16, 1986  Pornography
Jan. 04, 1985  The Modern First Amendment
Oct. 19, 1979  Pornography Business Upsurge
Mar. 09, 1979  Broadcasting's Deregulated Future
Mar. 21, 1973  Pornography Control
May 17, 1972  Violence in the Media
Jan. 21, 1970  First Amendment and Mass Media
Jul. 05, 1967  Prosecution and the Press
Jun. 28, 1961  Peacetime Censorship
Apr. 12, 1961  Censorship of Movies and TV
Dec. 23, 1959  Regulation of Television
Jul. 29, 1959  Control of Obscenity
Jul. 27, 1955  Bad Influences on Youth
Mar. 21, 1952  Policing the Comics
Apr. 12, 1950  Censorship of Motion Pictures
Sep. 20, 1939  Censorship of Press and Radio
Regulation and Legal Issues

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