Tim Goodman today has an update on the FCC, Michael Powell, and a letter-writing campaign. I didn't mention this Monday when he first wrote about it, but since the story is still alive, I'll add something here. Goodman asks us to write/e-mail Powell about the revelation that the vast majority of complaints about "indecent" teevee come from the same source, the PTC. Here's my email, which I sent a few days ago:
I am a family man, married for 31 years, with two fine children. I am also a professor, currently at American River College, who has also taught at UC Berkeley and San Francisco State. While teaching in the Mass Communications program at Berkeley, I had the pleasure of teaching a course on television, and I often include television as part of the syllabus in other courses I teach.
Like yourself, I take great pleasure in the best that television has to offer; like yourself, I find some televised offerings to be of poor quality, or even objectionable in some manner. As an father and as an instructor, I have first-hand experience seeing the effects, for better and for worse, of television on Americans young and old. I am a frequent viewer of television, but I am not indiscriminate. I am selective. I use my on/off switch and I change channels, so that I might watch only what I think is valuable. Others might have differing opinions on what is valuable and what is not; I assume they, too, have television sets with on/off buttons and channel switchers, and I hope they use these buttons so they don't have to watch programming they find worthless.
I am writing you after reading the revelations regarding the source for more than 99% of the complaints to the FCC, the Parents Television Council. I am not disputing that organization's right to have an opinion about programming, nor am I saying the members of the PTC are right or wrong in those opinions. However, it is disturbing to think that a small organization like the PTC is dominating the complaint file. As a writer and a professor, I have a bit of a bully pulpit that allows me to be a squeakier wheel than the average American, and I am proud to use that pulpit when necessary. But when it comes time to cast a vote, I only get one vote, no matter how loudly I've announced my opinions, which is how it works in a democracy.
The PTC is a very squeaky wheel, but they do not represent all Americans, and the reports explaining how much of the complaint process originates with them only demonstrates that their influence is out of proportion. They are, in effect, being given more than one "vote." Which is not how it works in a democracy.
I believe if you ask, you'll find that every member of the PTC has a television with an on/off switch and the ability to change channels. May I suggest that they use those buttons, and may I further suggest the FCC resists attempts by the PTC to take away my right as an American citizen to use the buttons on my own television.
Steven Rubio, Ph.D