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ERLC, others ask FCC chairman to crack down on Fox TV

WASHINGTON (BP)–The Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission has joined with other organizations in asking the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission to enforce federal decency laws, beginning with the Fox Network.

In a letter to FCC Chairman Michael Powell, the 14 organizations cited the Fox program “Boston Public” as an especially blatant violator of the decency standards. Among those signing the letter were Focus on the Family, National Association of Evangelicals, Family Research Council and American Family Association.

“Boston Public” is shown Monday at 8 p.m. (Eastern Standard Time) during what is known in television as the “family hour.” Last year, the Parents Television Council rated the program as the worst on network TV. Its plots have included strong sexual themes involving students with students, teachers with students and a parent with an administrator.

“It is our view that shows like ‘Boston Public’ and its ilk do not belong in prime time when any child in America can see them,” the Feb. 5 letter said. “We hope that you will agree.”

Not only did Fox have the No. 1-ranked program on the PTC’s worst 10 list last year but the programs rated No. 5, “That ’70s Show,” and No. 7, “Ally McBeal.”

The organizations encouraged Powell to take the FCC in a different direction. President Bush named Powell chairman of the five-member panel last year.

Prior to Powell’s chairmanship, the FCC has largely failed to enforce decency laws for several years, they said, citing a recent report by the Culture and Family Institute of Concerned Women for America. The FCC “has imposed minimal or no fines, dismissed penalties and ignored citizen complaints,” the letter said.

In a recent speech, FCC Commissioner Michael Copps expressed a commitment to enforce the decency laws, according to the letter. He told the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops it is the FCC’s responsibility to investigate complaints, not “the citizen’s responsibility to prove the violations,” the letter said.

“If you would be willing to work with Commissioner Copps to enforce our nation’s decency laws more completely, we are hopeful we may begin to see some real changes in the way radio stations and broadcast networks operate,” the letter said. “We hope you will begin with [Rupert] Murdoch’s Fox Network.”

Murdoch operates News Corp. Limited, the parent company that owns Fox.

The other organizations signing onto the letter were Christian Coalition, CWA’s Culture and Family Institute, Morality in Media, Wilberforce Forum, American Decency Association, Religious Freedom Coalition, American Association of Christian Schools, Citizens for Community Values and American Values.

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