But Why Should They Have To?


Jeff Jarvis reports some heartening findings from a recent TV Watch survey. The pollsters found that 87 percent of respondents agreed that parents are fully capable of regulating the content that comes into their home using widely-available blocking technology, and (despite the apparent view of FCC Chairman Kevin Martin that this is a terrible burden), 82 percent agreed that individuals, rather than the government, should do just that. (Though proving that TV has shortened attention spans to the point where people seem to change their minds from one question to the next, only 66 percent thought the government should refrain from making "subjective decisions about when the use of explicit language is necessary, whether in educational or artistic programming.")

This is a handy reminder that for every mortally offended busybody who clicks the "bitch" button on some Parents Television Council auto-complaint generator, there are thousands more viewers who didn't mind. Which is more or less what you'd expect: It's bad business practice to offend a majority of your own target audience, after all. Which does make you wonder: Even if you think there ought to be some kind of content-based oversight over "the public airwaves," why should the preferences of a tiny minority who find a program offensive—a minority who have the option of either flipping or blocking the channel—prevail over those of the majority of viewers who enjoy the content? So to turn Martin's infamous remark about employing parental controls around: Sure, the majority who prefer that their television programming not be bowdlerized can always find racier fare on pay subscription or On Demand channels like HBO… but why should they have to?