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Opie, Anthony and the Nanny State
Posted by: McQ on Monday, May 21, 2007

A very interesting editorial in, of all places, the LA Times:
The Federal Communications Commission has been an increasingly zealous regulator of radio and TV programming, handing down recordsetting fines while pushing Congress for more control. Its eagerness to censor casts a shadow over not just free radio and TV but also subscription audio and video channels whose programming falls outside the FCC's authority.

Why? Because companies in virtually every communications medium need the FCC's approval for some aspect of their business. So they muzzle themselves, or risk having a competitor seize upon a bit of offensive or indecent programming in the hope of turning the FCC against them. Either way, the commissioners' nanny-state ambitions have a chilling effect on free speech that reaches past the limits of their regulatory power.
OK, you say, so how is any of this important to the case of Opie and Anthony and their suspension from XM? Be patient, I'm getting there, but remember that emphasized line.

First a few facts about the O&A show:
Bear in mind that "Opie & Anthony" is carried on an "explicit language" channel aimed at adult listeners (albeit with a mean-spirited 15-year-old boy's sense of humor). Subscribers who don't want to hear the channel don't have to, and can even instruct XM to prevent their radios from receiving it. Still, a furor ensued, drawing a statement of condemnation from XM and a formulaic apology from the jocks. As the uproar continued, Opie and Anthony complained of being "under the same scrutiny as NPR." XM responded by suspending the pair for 30 days "to make clear that our on-air talent must take seriously the responsibility that creative freedom requires of them."
Got that? Again the emphasized line is the key. This isn't a show, no matter how tasteless or puerile, that was beaming across public airwaves. In fact, you could explicitly remove it from you radio subscription. Sounds perfect, doesn't it? I mean, how much more "protected' could you be from something, of which, you wanted no part?

So again, why were they suspended? Well one reason floated around a bit is because, as mentioned above, they responded rather poorly (but properly in my estimation) to management's requirement that they apologize. After all, it seems they understood their gig as I did ... an explicit language channel aimed at a particular audience who had to choose to tune in. So while plausible, it's not really what I find convincing in terms of why they were suspended. No, instead I find the LA Times explanation much more compelling:
Many of XM's subscribers, advertisers and financial analysts, however, thought that the company's stern message was aimed at the FCC, not its employees. Hemorrhaging money, XM wants to merge with satellite-radio competitor Sirius but needs the commission's approval. It's telling that one of the promises XM and Sirius have made to curry favor in Washington is that they will let customers remove channels with explicit content from their subscription — something that FCC Chairman Kevin J. Martin has urged pay TV services to do.
Huh. So much for "free speech" and avoiding "chilling effects". Even without directly involving itself, Leviathan's shadow may have been just enough to precipitate the action taken.

As Dale has pointed out many times, corporations are, for the most part, craven and cowardly. And they will indeed do what they feel is necessary to "curry favor", in this case throwing O&A under the bus (at least temporarily) in order to curry that favor and hope they've demonstrated something which will please their political masters and allow them the business deal they prefer.

Let freedom ring.

[Full disclosure: I have never, nor would I ever, listen too or subscribe to O&A's show. It holds no appeal for me. But I am interested in the freedom for others to accept or reject them on their own and not at the behest of or because of intimidation by the FCC.]
 
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OK, you say, so how is any of this important to the case of Opie and Anthony and their suspension from XM
Nothing more to add to this great post except to say that it’s most likely a firing, XM is just waiting for the news cycle to move on so they can drop the axe.
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
So without any evidence, this is the chilling effect? OK...whatever. Alternaitvely, XM just realized that Bob Newhart is funny, after decades whilst O&A are part of a dead-end strategy..."Shock Joks" after all, unless O&A end up with public virgin sacrifice, and then what comes after THAT, can’t shock people forever. Just how many strippers can Howard Stern introduce and mock? So mayhap XM realized that the public tide has cooled to what is ultimately a limited format, and decided to end it, you know a business decision? Be sued for contract violation, pay the cash and move on.

My theory has as much substance, but lacks the "Nanny State" angle, so I’m sure that whilst it’s less sexy to libertarians, arguably it has as much heft.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Brilliant post.

Support www.peopleagainstcensorship.com

We all agree!
I want what I paid for! Uncensored offensive HUMOR.
 
Written By: FlightBenefits
URL: http://
Support www.peopleagainstcensorship.com
Well as soon as you show me the CENSOR I’m all up for being on board...Censor being defined as someone that works for the government exercising Prior Restraint on O&A. To be distinguished from the owners of a company disciplining their employees and limiting their speech on the PRIVATELY -OWNED network.
We all agree!
I want what I paid for! Uncensored offensive HUMOR.
Looks like you’ll have to cancel that subscription and pay the penalty....I reckon if enough of you do that, though do you want to wait for them to be fired or to protest the suspension-an argument can be made either way-you might teach XM a lesson.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
[Full disclosure: I have never, nor would I ever, listen too or subscribe to O&A’s show. It holds no appeal for me. But I am interested in the freedom for others to accept or reject them on their own and not at the behest of or because of intimidation by the FCC.]
As far as that goes, sure thing.

But Boortz can say what he likes.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
But Boortz can say what he likes.
Why not, has he called anyone "Nappy-headed Ho’s" or put anyone on the air who wants to rape the SecState or murder his Jewish landlord? Just wonderin’?
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Why not, has he called anyone "Nappy-headed Ho’s" or put anyone on the air who wants to rape the SecState or murder his Jewish landlord? Just wonderin’?
No he hasn’t, but then I’d be criticizing him if he had.

If he had a corp paying his way, I’d hold their feet to the fire too.

But not an FCC fire.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
Well the LEGAL difference is, that Boortz and Limbaugh and Stern, when not on Sirius, WERE subject to an FCC fine. It’s the legal framework in which terrestrial broadcasting operates. This may or may not accord with libertarian principles, but it is how the system operates.

Also, XM may drop O&A any time they care to, as long as they are willing to pay the conssequences fo the breach of their contract, if any breach occured.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
In fact mcQ I think XM could just come out and say, "We really need a merger with Sirius and we’re not going to let anything stand in our way of that. So, we let O&A go." That’s STILL not the 1st Amendment, because it is STILL a Private entity, advancing its interests as it sees fit....and as long as O&A are compensated, they have no cause for complaint.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Web site for pedophiles back up and running.
The controversial site is run by Jack McClellan of Arlington, who admits he himself is a pedophile.
"The main thing, I think, they’re cute, a lot cuter than women. I admit there is kind of an erotic arousal there," McClellan said in a March interview.
The site again features pictures of children, but this time they appear to be pictures linked to a professional photographer’s Web site.
McClellan insists he’s never broken any laws. His Web site’s homepage claims his intentions are non-sexual.
It would appear that nothing illegal has transpired here. I argued in the previous Opie and Anthony thread that this kind of stuff is never contained. That the "adult" cable content is filtering down to the alphabet stations. The slippery slope argument that Bill Ardolino really took me to task for once.
OK McQ and Dale. Should First Amendment trump all as long as it’s legal? Suppose he charges $12.95 a month for his content. Make the libertarian argument for this.
 
Written By: tom scott
URL: http://
OK McQ and Dale. Should First Amendment trump all as long as it’s legal? Suppose he charges $12.95 a month for his content. Make the libertarian argument for this.
Is pedophilia legal Tom?

How about talking about it? Is that legal?

So, while you may not like it, its legal until he does something like attempt to entice a child for immoral purposes, etc. That would clearly be illegal and he would be held criminally responsible.

So in one instance, his speech would be protected and in another it wouldn’t. Why? Because in the latter, it would be used to entice another in order to violate their rights.

The problem that many find with 1st Amendment rights is they also include speech we find disgusting, hateful, racist, bigoted or, well name your poison. That’s the price of free speech.

 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
But Boortz can say what he likes.
Uh, ok ... when did I say he couldn’t?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
I don’t get it. If I’m an employer and I have employees who in the course of their duties do things that bring my business into ill repute I’m gonna fire their asses.

Now if someone brought in the FCC to shut them down I’d be jumping up and down and hollering with the rest of ya. But I find the notion that the general public has the right to tell a private employer they cannot fire or discipline employees that cause controversey disturbing.

There are other sides of libertarianism you know.
 
Written By: Rich Horton
URL: http://www.iconicmidwest.blogspot.com
But I find the notion that the general public has the right to tell a private employer they cannot fire or discipline employees that cause controversey disturbing.
I must have missed that ... who said they did, Rich?

The post looks at two possible scenarios for their suspension. Both plausible. One says they were suspended because they spoke out against their employer and the employer didn’t like it. The second says their employer took the opportunity of them speaking out to demonstrate to the FCC that they were as concerned as the FCC about such behavior as O&A exhibited and used the incident to curry favor with the FCC concerning their upcoming and hoped for merger with Sirius.

I’m at a loss to figure out where you understand that to mean anyone is telling a private employer he "cannot fire or discipline employees".
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Thanks McQ. I’m really in your camp but I find no firm evidence that the FCC interfered in this. If they did interfere I think it would be to the advantage of XM to state that. The disgruntled listeners would be less inclined to terminate their membership if some of them felt that XM was limited in their actions.
Secondly, I think the attack on Neal Boortz was out of line. Neal can criticize all he wants. In the initial posts I didn’t really see a strong !st amendment argument. What came through to me was Dale whining about what a loss he suffered. A case of real victimhood is what I garnered from it.
 
Written By: tom scott
URL: http://
If I’m an employer and I have employees who in the course of their duties do things that bring my business into ill repute I’m gonna fire their asses.
O&A were doing what XM hired them to do, and XM had been advertising it as such to their customers.

P.S. Is it okay to like both O&A and Newhart?
 
Written By: Jim Treacher
URL: http://dailygut.com
It’s telling that one of the promises XM and Sirius have made to curry favor in Washington is that they will let customers remove channels with explicit content from their subscription - something that FCC Chairman Kevin J. Martin has urged pay TV services to do.
Emphasis added.

How is this chilling anything? 90% of my FIOS subscription’s channel listing are channels that I have no desire to ever watch, much less pay for.
 
Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://
Uh, ok ... when did I say he couldn’t?
You didn’t, and I don’t think I said you did, although I may not have been unambiguous. Dale however, worked himself into quite a lather.

And an aside, if WM’s pro O&A cretins, err, subscribers, can put enough pressure on XM to reinstate them instanter, that’s also plenty fine.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
P.S. Is it okay to like both O&A and Newhart?
Sure, consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds and all that.

Course from what I’ve heard of them, O&A involves small minds too. From the description, listening to them should be a guilty pleasure.

Not that I don’t have one, my guilty pleasure is BTVS fanfic.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
Tom:
I’m really in your camp but I find no firm evidence that the FCC interfered in this. If they did interfere I think it would be to the advantage of XM to state that.
I’m not saying the FCC interfered. I’m saying that with the pending merger, the move to suspend O&A may have been motivated by a desire to curry favor with the FCC because of the pending merger.

Mark:
How is this chilling anything? 90% of my FIOS subscription’s channel listing are channels that I have no desire to ever watch, much less pay for.
See above: "curry favor".
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
This whole thing comes down to this question:

Would O&A be in the hot water they’re in, (Eventually) absent the FCC, and the merger?

Well, I think Joe’s right, they’re a dead end strategy.
So, the answer is, ’yes’.. if it didn’t happen now it would ahve happened eventually.

The implication of that is that all this complaining about ’censorship’ is so much bilge, which diverts us from the real issue... that being XM needed an excuse to drop a boat anchor from around their necks.

And Perkins:
consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds
So what is the application of "Principle", but conststancy?
Do you really mean to say principled people have small minds?
 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://
O&A were doing what XM hired them to do, and XM had been advertising it as such to their customers.
So XM hired these folks and gave them free reign to do whatever they wanted to do, with no restrictions, and with nothing being "over the line"? Some broadcaster is really going to contractually give that to on air personalities?

Funny, I XM thought hired them to do a bunch of dick and pussy jokes.
 
Written By: Rich Horton
URL: http://www.iconicmidwest.blogspot.com
Well, I think Joe’s right, they’re a dead end strategy.
Yeah....because having many O&A fans who will buy your product solely as a platform to listen to these guys (and pay an extra premium subscription fee to boot)is a "dead end"

And even if it is a dead end down the road, there’s still no reason not to ride the gravy train while you can get some profit from it?
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
Bithead you wrote:
So what is the application of "Principle", but conststancy[sic]?
Do you really mean to say principled people have small minds?
I had this really great two page plus reply, referencing Popper, Kant, Godel, Heisenberg, Emerson, et al.

And I accidentally erased the godd@mn thing just now!

So screw it.

In answer, no that is not what I meant to say.

I meant to communicate to Jim Treacher, and others reading, that I feel it is certainly okay to enjoy both O&A and Newhart, and intended to do so in a self-deprecating manner.

But while what you asked if what I meant—was not what I meant!—I submit this:

It is impossible to apply any given principle to your life with constancy, or even nearly so, without deprecating other principles to which it should sometimes give precedence. Except for one.
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
And after running it through a Buckminster Fuller filter, to break it into less sublime axioms.

1) Be thoughtful.
2) Do the best you can.
3) When you screw up, feel and express shame, guilt, and regret in some combination.


Yours Very Truly, Tom Perkins
molon labe, montani semper liberi, & para fides paternae patria
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
Yeah....because having many O&A fans who will buy your product solely as a platform to listen to these guys (and pay an extra premium subscription fee to boot)is a "dead end"
I doubt it was for them alone and have no reason to think that’s the case, except in extreme cases.
And I accidentally erased the godd@mn thing just now!
hehe. I’m hip. Been that kinda week, so far, here at work. What I need, and have been sitting on for months, suddenly goes missing, or is garbled.
And even if it is a dead end down the road, there’s still no reason not to ride the gravy train while you can get some profit from it?
No problem for that; Indeed, I suspect that’s what happened here... XM has notred the gravy train coming to an end, for some reason, and needed an excuse to dump them. Is their listenership going down, by chance? (Would XM ever admit to such?) Is there some tangle with Stern and his contracts, post merger? Either way, what better way to get the situation dealt with, while generating all kinds of press, than to claim it’s because they’re trying to placate the government, hmmm?

 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://
"I had this really great two page plus reply, referencing Popper, Kant, Godel, Heisenberg, Emerson, et al."

What a coincidence! Me, too. Except mine was three pages. Great minds think alike, eh?
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Tim, go yank something besides my chain.

TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
So XM hired these folks and gave them free reign to do whatever they wanted to do, with no restrictions, and with nothing being "over the line"?
Pretty much. They weren’t allowed to libel people (they hit the dump button only once that I’m aware of, when one of their interns named a former teacher who he accused of being a pedophile). But they’ve joked about some really horrible things. It’s called "cringe humor" for a reason.
Funny, I XM thought hired them to do a bunch of dick and pussy jokes.


I don’t see how they’re mutually exclusive.
 
Written By: Jim Treacher
URL: http://dailygut.com
Jeez, lighten up, dude.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Sorry. My mood about it would lighten if hadn’t an hour or more of effort.

TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
I feel your pain. "The dog ate my homework" may be a funny line, but not to the guy who did the homework. Didn’t mean to ruffle a feather.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://

 
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