||Rocky Mountain Media Watch Texts & Press Releases #4|
Appeal to FCC License Challenge Rejections
|Press Release 5/28/98
Text of Application for Review 5/28/98
Citizen's Group Appeals FCC Staff Ruling Regarding Denver TV Stations' Toxic Newscasts
|RETURN TO TOP||For Immediate Release
Thursday, May 28, 1998
Contact: Paul Klite (303) 832-7558
Denver, May 28 (RMMW) - Rocky Mountain Media Watch filed an Application for Review today before the Federal Communications Commission asking the FCC to reconsider a staff decision denying RMMW's challenge of the licenses of four Denver television stations.
RMMW contends that the stations are broadcasting a toxic diet of mayhem to viewers and that the country's leading health organizations have repeatedly warned that excessive media violence has severe public health effects. Yet, the FCC staff declined to seriously consider this evidence in its ruling.
"The country has a serious problem with local television news, " said Paul Klite, RMMW Executive Director. "The FCC must do more than wring its hands and say it can't do anything about it."
RMMW asks the Commission to consider how television 'violence' is not just about specific programming content.. Violence, threatened or actual, creates an environment of fear, intimidation and power. Violence is the supreme manipulator of audiences. Citing recent events like the L.A. freeway suicide and the Springfield, OR copy-cat school shootings as examples, RMMW contends violence must be handled by broadcasters with extreme care and sensitivity.
The Application for Review states, 'We are not asking the Commission to regulate content or censor content of news programs. The Commission can, however, send a message about manipulative violence, warn about it and invite a national discussion about it. It is inconceivable that the Commission would remain silent as millions of Americans suffer the consequences.'
RMMW's Application for Review is on its web site at: www.imagepage.com/rmmw.
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Application for Review of FCC's Decision Denying Our Petition to Deny Licensure
|RETURN TO TOP||Before the
In the Matter of
License renewal Application of
APPLICATION FOR REVIEW
This Application for Review is in response to a letter of decision dated April 30, 1998 by Barbara A. Kreisman, Chief, Video Services Division, Mass Media Bureau, denying the Petition to Deny filed by Rocky Mountain Media Watch against the re-licensing of Denver Colorado television stations KCNC-TV, KMGH-TV, KUSA-TV and KWGN-TV.
The country has a serious problem with local television news. Rocky Mountain Media Watch asks the Federal Communications Commission Members to review the evidence and arguments regarding the harmful effects on citizens of local newscasts on four Denver television stations. Commission policy regarding news broadcasts should be revisited and revised.
Since RMMW's Petitions to Deny were filed, the country has endured another terrible example of the power of violent television news images to produce acute reactions of terror and outrage in viewers. We saw how people cringed and recoiled as six Los Angeles stations broadcast images of a man blowing his head off on May 1, 1998. Two stations even interrupted children' programming to air this event, live. How many nightmares will these gruesome pictures cause? How much mental scarring, fear and alienation? Will there be copy-cat events? Who will intervene when journalistic decisions are out of control?
On May 21, a copy-cat school killing in Springfield, Oregon made national headlines. In the soul-searching that followed, desensitization of our young people by television and other mass media was consistently blamed as one contributing factor to an escalating epidemic of teen violence.
These events are acute examples of what is happening chronically in Denver with violence laden newscasts. RMMW has demonstrated in data filed with the Commission that, on a daily basis, viewers are subjected to a steady diet of mayhem. The country's leading medical organizations have repeatedly warned that excessive media violence has severe public health effects. Yet, the FCC Video Services Division glossed over this evidence in its ruling.
When television stations harm and manipulate audiences with their news programming, the FCC can and should take action. The Commission's historic reluctance to second-guess journalistic decisions by television news departments is understandable, but the country has a serious problem with local TV news and the Commission must do more than say they can't do anything about it. We are not asking the Commission to regulate content or censor content of news programs. The Commission can, however, send a message about manipulative violence, warn about it and invite a national discussion about it. It is inconceivable that the Commission would remain silent as millions of Americans suffer the consequences.
Television 'violence' is not just about specific programming content.. Violence, threatened or actual, creates an environment of fear, intimidation and power. Violence is the supreme manipulator of audiences. It acts like a powerful stimulant on viewers and must be handled by broadcasters with care and sensitivity. Yet, many TV news departments view violence as their bread and butter. Because media violence is a key ingredient of what marketing departments call 'arousal,' violence on television is highly prized and overused.
The Supreme Court's Red Lion decision established that the public's First Amendment rights have precedence over the stations' interests. If the Commission's policies preclude protecting the people when the public interest is harmed, then it is time to revise those policies. Former FCC Chairman Minow suggests in his recent book that a reasonable yardstick of 'the public interest' is acting in the best interests of our children.
According to Ted Turner, "People are beginning to realize the total effect of watching so much sleazy, lousy, violent, exploitive television. It is bad for our society." We contend the Commission has the authority and obligation to address this issue.
Rocky Mountain Media Watch