January 29, 2008 at 5:54 pm · Filed under Guest Blogger, Television

A media critique by Wayne Friedman from TV Watch , Tuesday, January 29, 2008

CHILDREN SHOULDN’T BE WATCHING RACY TV at 9 p.m. But somehow, at 10 p.m., it’s safe to show a woman’s backside to those same children.

Last week ABC was spanked around by the Federal Communications Commission to the tune of $1.4 million in fines to some 50 ABC affiliates in Mountain and Central time zones who ran an “NYPD Blue” episode at 9 p.m. that showed a women’s backside.

Hopefully children don’t get to see their parents, relatives or parents’ friends mistakenly in a bathroom or coming out of a shower. The ” NYPD Blue” scene was about that. Detective Andy Sipowicz’ girlfriend is about to take a shower, drops her robe, talks to Sipowicz, and then, mistakenly, Sipowicz’ son gets an eyeful of her behind.

Kids running around their parents’ Super Bowl parties also got a brief eyeful, when in February 2004, Janet Jackson’s breast made an unexpected Super Bowl appearance. It was a mistake — her costume wasn’t supposed to come off.

The FCC has a strict 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. rule where indecent programming is not allowed. What about those kids who saw the Jackson breast at 10 p.m. or perhaps at other times — through means of the DVR or, more likely in 2003, a videotape recording?

In this digital age, in this time-shifted, anywhere-anytime world, a time period means nothing. The FCC needs to reinvent the rules. Procedural crime dramas are probably not good programming for eight-year-olds at 10 p.m. or 7 p.m. or 3 p.m. or just after “Sesame Street” at 9 p.m. (in regards to daytime cable reruns).

ABC did offer up parental warnings about the “NYPD Blue” episode. But the FCC said that didn’t matter — the scene was lingering. With no parents around, however, you have a bigger problem. I’d like to know if an 8- or 10-year-old read the warning, and said: “Gee, I better not watch. I’m alone and not sure what this programming is about. And I’m sure the wrong advertisers will be targeting me with all sort of cell phone ads, great deals on cars, or financial services. My allowance is only $10 a week. And, what if something yucky comes on? Eeew!”

Some of those thoughts might have occurred. But with no parents around, who can help answer those questions?

No matter. The FCC is swatting at flies while travelling down the Amazon.

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