In an appearance before Congress in February, when the controversy over Janet Jacksonâ€™s Super Bowl moment was at its height, Federal Communications Commission chairman Michael Powell laid some startling statistics on U.S. senators.
The number of indecency complaints had soared dramatically to more than 240,000 in the previous year, Powell said. The figure was up from roughly 14,000 in 2002, and from fewer than 350 in each of the two previous years. There was, Powell said, â€œa dramatic rise in public concern and outrage about what is being broadcast into their homes.â€
What Powell did not revealâ€”apparently because he was unawareâ€”was the source of the complaints. According to a new FCC estimate obtained by Mediaweek, nearly all indecency complaints in 2003â€”99.8 percentâ€”were filed by the Parents Television Council, an activist group.
This year, the trend has continued, and perhaps intensified.
Through early October, 99.9 percent of indecency complaintsâ€”aside from those concerning the Janet Jackson â€œwardrobe malfunctionâ€ during the Super Bowl halftime show broadcast on CBSâ€” were brought by the PTC, according to the FCC analysis dated Oct. 1. (The agency last week estimated it had received 1,068,767 complaints about broadcast indecency so far this year; the Super Bowl broadcast accounted for over 540,000, according to commissionersâ€™ statements.)
Interesting statistics, and perhaps further proof that the majority of people feel that they have more than enough control over the public airwaves in the form of their remote, without the need to complain to the FCC anytime they come across something they find objectionable.