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Indecency and the New FCC

Public television is clearly vulnerable as a result of the current political campaign against indecency. So said the panelists at the final First Amendment Breakfast of the semester, held on March 11. Frank Rich of The New York Times; Susan Ness, a former FCC commissioner; and Robert Corn-Revere, a partner at Davis Wright Tremaine, agreed that powerful media companies are not the target of the "decency" sword of Damocles, which some members of Congress will hold over candidates at future confirmation hearings for FCC commissioners. Rather, it is programming such as Frontline and Sesame Street that may well be the collateral damage of a campaign that is "entirely a political issue" geared to appease conservative constituents. "It is a witch hunt," Rich explained. "When people are successful, they want more blood."

Floyd Abrams

Floyd Abrams, William J. Brennan Visiting Professor of First Amendment Issues, Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism

Real Video (8:41)
Robert Corn-Revere

Robert Corn-Revere, communications law specialist and partner, David Wright Tremaine L.L.P.

Real Video (10:51)
Susan Ness

Susan Ness, former FCC commissioner

Real Video (14:16)
Frank Rich

Frank Rich, art critic and columnist, The New York Times

Real Video (10:11)

Production Number: 341
Shot: Mar 11, 2005
Published: Apr 13, 2005
Last modified:Sep 12, 2005