Captain Renault’s Return: The FCC Should Set a Bright-Line Standard for Radio and Television

A note from NCPPR executive director David Almasi:

Howard Stern is foul-mouthed and his show is intentionally titillating. I think we all understand that. The fact that Clear Channel suddenly found him to be indecent reminds me of Captain Renault in “Casablanca” (I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!). The same goes for all of the other “shock jocks” out there. They’re like charted reefs at sea. You can be warned to steer clear, but you always run the risk of running into them.

While listening to the radio on the way into work Friday morning, I heard a real concern that so far seems to be flying under the radar. Tonight’s “George Lopez” on ABC (a Disney-owned company) features a guest starring role by socialite/heiress/amatuer porn actress Paris Hilton as “a beautiful tutor for [George’s son] Max.” The clip they played in the radio commercial had Max learning algebra, with Paris’s character telling him he needs to “find her X.” Max responds that he felt a chill when she said that, and laughter ensues. Upon reaching the office and cracking open the paper, I saw a photo of the same scene — and Max appears to be 10-12 years old.

“George Lopez” is marketed as a family show. It airs at 8pm. There’s no doubt in my mind that Hilton got the job because she is provocative. Stern was booted from Clear Channel, by the way, for statements made while he was interviewing the man who is selling a video of himself and Hilton having sex. She is there to titillate. And her foil is a young boy. In their wisdom, Disney executives apparently didn’t think it might be a good idea to delay airing this episode or pulling it entirely. Why? Lawmakers are going for the low-lying political fruit of “shock jocks.”

While Congress should be appalled by what’s allowed on the radio, they should be more shocked that ABC is using sex to sell their family shows. And they should be appalled that the FCC has not set a bright-line standard for what is acceptable and what is not.

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