Thursday, February 26, 2004

Indecency: I'm shocked, shocked!
Clear Channel Suspends Stern's Radio Show

The nation's largest radio station chain took shock jock Howard Stern off the air in six markets, saying his sexually explicit show did not meet the company's newly revised programming standards. The move came on the eve of Thursday's congressional hearing on broadcast indecency . . .

Clear Channel has standards? Think about it.

Anyway, Jarvis is at the one end, making this point:

Yes, Clear Channel is a company with the full right and responsibility to decide what to put on its air. But that's not what's happening here. The government is behind this. The government called broadcast chieftens to the woodshed and they came back vowing to avoid further government censure. Mel Karmazin of Viacom, owner of Stern's station, held a conference call threatening to fire DJs, program directors, and general managers who are even the subject of complaint. The government tried to put a chill on speech. And it worked. And that should chill you.
Lileks is at the other, in elephant-gun irony mode (powerful as hell, but awfully inaccurate over distances):
We need to coarsen public discourse as much as possible as quickly as possible, because a free and open society depends on the right of Pink to flash her labia at the next Superbowl. I'm serious: if we don't see a clitoris on the Jumbocam, this nation is OVER. (Breast, labia - what's the diff? Please don't tell me you're one of those bluenoses who thinks a boob's okay but explicit gyno topography is somehow unsuitable for prime-time. It's the HUMAN BODY, people; what's your hang up?)
I have to come down on Jeff's side here. I think the FCC and Mikey Powell are pushing really, really hard right now. I think the folks at Clear Channel would broadcast amplified, reverberated spaniel farts 24 hours a day if they thought a goddamn nickel was in it for them. That sets up a conflict, and I think radio is knuckling under. Here's what Glenn says:
It's hard for me to get too exercised about this. I'm opposed to censorship, but Stern was "censored" by his employer.
Look, I have no problem with an employer censoring an employee either. None of my business. But making offensive remarks is quite obviously the business Howard Stern is in. Viacom knows it. Clear Channel knew it. It's not as though the guy has been doing Andy Griffith schtick for the past 20 years. So what, other than massive federal pressure, could have caused Clear Channel to adopt its "newly revised programming standards"? I think this smells rotten enough to to get worked up about.

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