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Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20554
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Internet: http://www.fcc.gov
TTY: 202/418-2555


This is an unofficial announcement of Commission action. Release of the full text of a Commission order constitutes official action. See MCI v. FCC. 515 F 2d 385 (D.C. Circ 1974).

October 16, 2000


FCC COMMISSIONER GLORIA TRISTANIíS REMARKS BEFORE THE EN BANC HEARING ON PUBLIC INTEREST OBLIGATIONS OF TV BROADCAST LICENSEES


I have spoken before about the pressing need to give substantive meaning to the public interest and to ascertain whether broadcasters are fulfilling their obligations to the American people. I have also asked that this Commission hold a hearing devoted solely to the effect of violent and sexual programming on our nationís children. In that vein, I should welcome todayís en-banc hearing. I am reluctantly here, however, because of the following.

First, the limited time allotted to the many issues we are to cover does not do justice to the importance of these issues to the American citizenry. For example, the lack of political discourse over the peopleís airwaves merits a separate hearing of its own.

Second, I am concerned that todayís hearing, like too many of our public proceedings, is a carefully scripted one and that Iím here to watch a play I know by heart.

Third, and my principle concern, is that the issue of the effect of violent and sexual programming on our nationís children is getting short shrift. We will devote perhaps two hours, one during our traditional lunch hour, to a subject that is increasingly preoccupying our nationís leaders, our nationís doctors and health experts and our nationís families and parents. Even our colleagues at the Federal Trade Commission have become engaged on this issue devoting more than a year and a half to a comprehensive study with startling results.

Senators McCain, Lieberman, Byrd and Brownback carefully outlined these concerns in their letter to this Commission dated May 25, 2000. In that letter, they asked, among other things that: (1) the Commission comment on the advisability of resurrecting an industry adopted code of conduct; and (2) that the Commission review and rearticulate the indecency standard. These questions would ideally be the framework of a single hearing devoted solely to this subject. It would be ideal as well to have a panel or two devoted to fact finding on the effects of violent and sexual programming on our children. I note in this context that the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee recently found a direct, causal connection between violence watched and violence carried out in real life.

That this subject is one that weighs heavily on our nationís parents and families is demonstrated by the approximately 30,000 petitions that you see here on the table next to me and that I am presenting to the Commission. The petitions were gathered by a Puerto Rican group called Detente. The petitions are in Spanish and

I will read the English translation:

To: FCC Mass Media Bureau
Sponsors of Indecent Programs

Dear Sirs:

I, a Puerto Rican, believe that the following programs on television and radio, threaten our societyís mental and emotional heath, and particularly our childrenís mental and emotional health, because these programs have a high level of vulgar, sexual, immoral, obscene and violent content. In addition, these programs threaten to shatter our values as Puerto Ricans and Christians. Also, these programs are aired in open violation of FCC statutes and rules, which prohibit the airing of these types of programs before 10:00 P.M.

RADIO
Program Station Time
El Vacilon de la Manana WCOM 94.7 FM Daily: 6:00-10:00 AM
El Bayu WPRM 98.5 FM Daily: 6:00-10:00 AM
Hoy por Hoy WIAC 102.5 FM Daily: 6:00-10:00 AM
TELEVISION
Program Station Time
No te duermas WKAQ Telemundo 2 Monday: 8:30-10:00 PM
El Show de Raymond WAPA Televicentro 4 Tuesday: 9:00-10:00 PM
Super Show de Marcano WLII Teleonce Daily: 6:00-7:00 PM


I demand and expect prompt action from you, members of the FCC. We will also be waiting for a response from the sponsors of these programs.


Cordially, and in anticipation of your response:


Name

Date

Address

Signature

Telephone



The American citizens from Puerto Rico who signed these petitions are crying out for action.

I respectfully submit these petitions for inclusion in the FCC record. I respectfully ask that my fellow Commissioners ponder what answer we can give to the grievances of these 30,000 citizens. As to the subject of indecent broadcasting, I also ask my colleagues whether you will consider adopting a procedure that facilitates, rather than frustrates, proper review of our citizensí complaints. Access to the courts is a hallmark of American jurisprudence. Access is ensured by simple notice pleading rules. Why should the FCC process be more difficult? It should not be more difficult for an American to file a complaint for indecency that reaches their children with the FCC than a complaint for slamming.

In sum, and as I stated before, we are giving short shrift to the issue of the effects of violent and sexual programming on our nationís children. In doing so, we fail our obligations to our fellow Americans and we fail in our duty to protect and safeguard our children. The noxious effects of violence and sex over the airwaves on young, developing, and impressionable minds is a health hazard that we should face head-on, with determination and conviction. None of us would hesitate to act if our children were being physically violated, but too many of us fail to act when our childrenís minds are violated.

I am again reminded of the words of Albert Camus and I paraphrase: Perhaps we cannot prevent this world from being a world in which children suffer. But we can reduce the number of suffering children. And if those who have the power to make a difference donít help, who else in the world can help us do this?