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The fallout from the Justin Timberlake-Janet Jackson Super Bowl fiasco abruptly caused network programmers to understand that there are untold numbers of Americans who are concerned about obscene images being broadcast into their homes. Programmers have now been forced to reassess programming standards – or the lack thereof – because millions of Americans loudly reacted to the halftime striptease.
The most important thing to understand in this controversy was brought out by my good friend Gary Bauer. He said: “A statistical analysis of viewership indicated that one-in-five American kids between the ages of 2 and 11 were watching the game with their parents, a fact that CBS and MTV marketers had to know, but it didn’t stop them from bringing this trash right into our living rooms.”
That prior knowledge didn’t stop network officials from allowing the vulgar routine because they didn’t care who got offended.
They certainly care now.
So do the NFL, the Federal Communications Commission and the other major networks, for that matter. The NFL and the FCC were flooded with e-mails and calls from offended Super Bowl viewers, as was CBS.
NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue announced after the Super Bowl that the league would alter policies and procedures relating to entertainment during games. The announcement had quick consequences: ‘N Sync member JC Chasez was axed from the NFL Pro Bowl Sunday halftime show. The league is not going to risk having more lewd lyrics or actions at their events, and that is a positive thing for American families.
In addition, NBC announced it had edited out what was described as a brief shot of an 80-year-old woman’s breast from last Thursday’s episode of “ER.”
Apparently, producers of the show were angered by the announcement, but that’s to be expected. TV producers are like spoiled children. They cry when they don’t get their way, even over an insignificant issue like this one. Plus, they’re not used to anyone saying no to them; the FCC has certainly not been doing their job in keeping the bawdy broadcasts off the air and timid network officials have been afraid to halt the outrageous sexual material.
But the Timberlake-Jackson episode was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back with viewers, and network executives know now that there is a line that cannot be crossed with viewers. They will be walking on eggshells for a while.
The key now is for concerned viewers to remain proactive in voicing their concerns over sexually-themed network broadcasts. I’m sure network officials believe that the controversy will soon die down – at least they hope so – so they can go back to televising the usual rubbish that is routinely pumped into American homes.
If Americans allow that to happen, shame on us.
I spoke at a pastors conference in Jacksonville, Fla., earlier this week and told thousands of church leaders to urge their congregations to write or call CBS and the FCC in order to keep the pressure on. I am encouraging readers of this column to do the same. By acting together, we wield incredible power – especially now.
Here is the contact information for FCC Chairman Michael Powell (who announced that he is launching an inquiry into the Super Bowl halftime show): firstname.lastname@example.org. In addition, the FCC general e-mail box is: email@example.com.
You may call CBS at (212) 975-4321 or e-mail the network at this address: www.cbs.com (click on “feedback” at the bottom of the home page to send your e-mail).
Please join me in keeping the pressure on! Get your family, church family and friends involved, as well. We can seriously impact the culture if we act as one in letting the networks know that it is time to clean up television for good!