Sex and
And the
According to press reports, the Federal Communications Commission is about to embark on yet another hearing on "obscenity in broadcasting." Evidently, a somewhat young and lovely mammary gland was displayed to the public, at half-time in some game or another, and all were shocked out of their wits. Guns, bodies, murder, rapine: these are acceptable on the home screen. Only the lowly and gentle dug is presumed to be dangerous to the health and well-being of our youth (even, perchance, babes-in-arms) and thus the offending object will be the subject of a vigorous and thorough investigation.

Thirty-five years ago, when I was operating broadcast stations of my own, there was a similar concern about "obscenity." To address these concerns, I once appeared before the Senate Commerce Committee in connection with the question of license terms for broadcasters. Among my suggestions was one which would address the issue of sex and violence in broadcasting that would relieve the government from having to venture into the delicate area of censorship.

In brief, I suggested that the FCC create a fee schedule which would be applied to each program that involved mayhem or explicit sexual content. I called it a "Sex and Violence Fee."

Each broadcast licensee would be required to keep a log of all programs in which contained, in all or in part, sexual innuendo, lewd and lascivious acts or descriptions, violence, and/or drug use. The FCC would create a fee schedule appropriate to such broadcasts.

At the end of each fiscal year, station operators would forward a list of programs which fit these categories, and remit the appropriate dollar amount to the Commission, to become part of its general fund.

I presented a suggested schedule of fees, with the caveat that it was not complete. "I am sure that the FCC," I said, "with better investigative resources than my own, can come up with a more comprehensive list." For instance, even now I'm not exactly sure how one should categorize some of the more exotic acts of violence, such as one I saw not long ago on Los Angeles TV, in which a woman was shown in the buff, in a shower, being eviscerated by a portable electric drill.

§     §     §

I listed the following program categories, with suggested fees:

*Class I words would include "damn," "hell," "goddamn," "screw," "dork," "pantywaist," etc., and all ethnic slurs.
**Class II words would consist of all the remainder.
Sexual innuendo $2,500
Dirty Words (Class I)* $5,000
Dirty Words (Class II)** $10,000
Sex, Nudity
Naked body (above the waist)$5,000
Naked body (below the waist)$10,000
Intercourse (Simulated: Oral, etc)$15,000
Intercourse (Actual: Oral, etc.)$20,000
Drug Use
Bodily blows with fist or "blunt object"
          First blow$5,000
          Each blow thereafter$3,000
Shooting, knifing, stabbing (without blood)$7,500
Shooting, knifing, stabbing (with blood)$10,000
Bludgeoning, kicking, stomping, garroting, strangling, general mayhem$15,000
Torture: gouging out eyes, eviscerating, beheading, cutting off private parts, etc.$25,000
National or International: CIA, FBI, ATF, or U. S. Military None
National or International: Terrorist $100,000

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The merit of this Fee-based Schedule is that it neither contemplates nor requires censorship. It is, rather, a system that depends on the good-will of American broadcasters to report their activities honestly --- in much the same way that they and the rest of us report income, expenses, and depreciation to the IRS.

Since, according to the FCC's own records, American broadcasters enjoy well over 25% return, annually, on invested dollar (one of the highest of any industry), they should welcome this relatively elegant method of self-regulation which will have the dual advantage of helping to fund their appropriate regulatory commission and, more importantly, stifling the ever increasing, strident demands for censorship.

--- L. W. Milam
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