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Radio Censorship: An Analysis Of The Pros And Cons.

1098 words - 4 pages

The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution reads, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."1 It has been cited time and time again by individuals ranging from those fighting for civil liberties to those who are just providing entertainment. The First Amendment defines freedom, it defines individuality, it defines 'America.' Surely there is no group powerful enough to defy the Constitution.Well unfortunately, there is one group with such a power. This group's sole purpose is to regulate the media and the messages it sends. This group is the Federal Communications Commission (FCC for short). It was created by the Communications Act of 1934 to regulate "interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite and cable," and its five Commissioners are appointed directly by the President of the United States.2 By law, the FCC is technically not allowed to interfere with or censor individual programs, but does have the power to challenge the "public interest, convenience, and necessity" of a radio station when the time comes to renew its license.3The power of the FCC has been greatly expanded due to the technological limitation of radio waves. There are a limited number of radio frequencies, so the FCC was given control in order to promote quality programming and to prevent multiple signals on the same frequency.3 This means that not only does the FCC have jurisdiction of the AM and FM bands of radio and broadcast TV, but it also has control over everything from microwave ovens to garage door openers.2 Just about everything that sends or receives electronic signals needs to obtain a license from the FCC.In the interest of public welfare, the FCC has made some distinct regulations as far as what content it will allow on the airwaves. For example, graphic sexual acts are not allowed on any medium, and presenting such an act would subject the broadcaster to huge fines and/or suspension of their license. Because radio and television waves are "invasive," everyone can tune in to them. Since there is no effective way to stop children from tuning in to adult content, it is in the public interest to ban such content, or to provide a warning beforehand.For the most part broadcasters practice self-censorship, not only to avoid an FCC infraction, but to avoid a backlash from the public. Not only can the individual refuse to tune in to a program, but they can also encourage a boycott to prevent others from tuning in as well. The broadcaster is reliant on money they earn from advertising, and without a public, there is no income. On occasion they will test the boundaries slightly, but rarely will they broadcast something so offensive that a negative reaction is certain.Every once in a while, the FCC feels...

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