Society today tends to fixate on and gravitate to television shows. Certain people even believe some of the families depicted on these shows are what a normal family should be. There are two types of television networks, broadcast and cable. Broadcast television stations are the channels that air for free, while cable you pay a subscription for. While television is a great platform for various issues and ideas, I believe that most broadcast television stations’ depictions do not accurately represent families are or what they go through. For example, while soap operas tend to be exceedingly sensational and over the top, most comedies gloss over the terrible things that may befall a family. Gritty crime shows and other dramas try to portray families more accurately, but still must follow certain rules. For this reason, dramas still tend to be unrealistic. The recent rise of popular cable television programs highlight key content regulations that contribute heavily to inaccurate family portrayals and ultimately, the broadcast networks’ decline. I believe these regulations on content are outdated.
The differences between the broadcast and cable television network shows illustrate one of the massive complications for content regulation. Shows such as Sons of Anarchy, Dexter, The Sopranos and Weeds, can thrive because it is not bound to the same standards and practices of broadcast networks. Professor Robert Thompson, the founding director of the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture at Syracuse University, said “If you look at the overall landscape and go to the best stuff out there, and let’s take the last five years or so, just what FX, AMC, HBO and Showtime have been doing […] these shows are so much better than anything we ever had during the so-called Golden Age of Television” (TV World).This creates a substantial advantage for cable networks when it comes to creating quality programming because they do not have to follow the Federal Communications Commission’s rules on obscenity, indecency & profanity.
According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), “It is a violation of federal law to air obscene programming at any time. It is also a violation of federal law to air indecent programming or profane language during certain hours.” (FCC Obscenity). No other medium of expression, oral, visual, or printed, has ever had such an excessive amount of regulation. Because broadcast television stations are required to be licensed by the FCC, this government entity inevitably has greater control over its content. Broadcast television is the only medium that is subjected to this type of censure just because of their specific type of formatting. What constitutes obscene, indecent or profane programming? The United States Code granting the FCC such power over content offers no definition for these terms. The Supreme Court had the final determination and crafted a “three-prong test”:
An average person, applying contemporary community...