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FCC Looks for Knuckleheads in the Crowd and More Bits



As I've written before, I'm as conflicted as anyone on the idea of government monitoring of broadcast content.

On the one hand, as a parent of four, I was profoundly uncomfortable with the way broadcasters would air commercials with curse words and explicit content with little regard for the time slot or the program they appeared in. I was worried about the continued coarsening of shows in prime time and concerned that it was growing too difficult to predict when a program might contain content I didn't want my young children to see.

But the FCC keeps undermining my concerns by undertaking ever more ridiculous efforts to police content which doesn't need attention. This time, it's offhand comments made by people in the crowd during sporting events.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, the FCC has asked for numerous tapes of crowd noise at sporting events -- as much as 30 tapes from one outlet -- presumably with a eye toward pnishing broadcasters for airing expletives shouted during the telecasts.

One anonymous executive quoted in the story lamented that the FCC seems focused on ending live TV. Another said "I don't know how they are going to rule, but they asked us for tapes with a specific emphasis on crowd noise. If some bozo in the crowd calls the ref an asshole, the commission is asking for a copy of the tape."

At a time when so much is changing in our world, it's good to know the FCC is on the cutting edge of curbing drunken insults hurled by crowd members during large sporting events.

DEGGANS PunditWatch: Another CNN Go 'Round

Thanks to new CBS anchor Katie Couric, I'll be making my second appearance on CNN as a talking head, trading quips about her listening tour on Washington Post media critic Howie Kurtz' Reliable Sources show at 10 a.m. Sunday.

One thing that has amazed me about this story is the national media's fascination with her mini-tour. Just about every media blog I read regularly linked my Tuesday story about Couric's stop here in Clearwater, and USA Today ran a story today in which a good piece of it reprinted my story (with attribution, fortunately).

The latest buzz: Reporters in other cities have noticed Katie getting questions from the audience about expanding the nightly news to an hour. Eyebrows immediately raise -- who would ask such a thing at several stops? Have the CBS powers that be planted a question to justify a future move?

My own thought is -- probably not. It makes a lot of sense for the network to expand the show to an hour and move it back to 7 p.m., when an increasingly work-laden audience might actually be home to see it. But local stations make a lot of $ off what we call "access" -- the 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. hour. WTSP-Ch. 10, for example, has the two highest-rated syndicated shows in the market in that time period -- Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy.

It will take a lot more than a few offhand questions during a press tour -- I mean, listening tour -- to make them give up that golden goose.

HEY - If you've got any good ideas about how to spice up Katie's nightly news -- no X-rated scenarios, please -- drop 'em in the comments section.

ReacTV Debuts on Bright House cable

St. Petersburg entrepreneur Frank Maggio got a huge boost to his effort to create a new gaming channel for TV following news that Bright House will air his ReacTV channel on its digital cable service when it debuts Aug. 1.

Maggio's channel looks like a gussied-up version of the trivia games folks play in bars. But he hopes to make a difference by giving out prizes to folks who answer the most questions correctly and give prizes to people to answer questions correctly about the commercials.

Viewers will still have to play the games online -- a special Wi-Fi enabled remote allowing folks to play the game while watching TV won't be available until December. But Maggio remains hopeful Bright House's more than 400,000 digital cable households will check out his new channel and get involved; those in the know also realize Maggio is challenging Nielsen Media Research with his own TV ratings service. And he's close to opening sales on three major condominium projects.

This isn't a guy who does anything halfway, it seems.

AP Plans Boycott of Fox

My final tidbit today, the welcome news that AP is considering boycotting coverage of Fox's portion of the TV Critics Press Tour because the network has barred its photographers.

(Apparently, they can't stand photos like this, from the winter tout)

Just so you understand: the press tour is a three-week-long series of press conferences in which TV networks roll out their plans for fall and TV critics hobnob with executives, producers, writers and talent. It's already a cavalcade of press events, staged press conferences and highly-controlled interactions. So why does Fox need to piss off the word's largest news organization by barring its photographers?

Press tour has always had a serious tension between the spoon-feeding aspect of the press conferences and the value of bringing journalists together with the biggest names in TV for an extended period. This nonsensical tiff is what happens when a network begins to forget the tour is a journalistic endeavor, and tries to exert too much control.

Here's hoping AP gets a few days off during this summer's tour.

[Last modified: Wednesday, July 21, 2010 2:36pm]


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