According to the FCC website, broadcasters have wide discretion in choosing their programming. The First Amendment to the Constitution and the Communications Act prohibit the FCC from becoming involved in selecting the content of specific programs or otherwise engaging in activities that might be regarded as censorship.
Indecent programming contains patently offensive sexual or excretory material that does not rise to the level of obscenity. The courts have held that indecent
material is protected by the First Amendment and cannot be banned entirely. FCC rules prohibit indecent speech on broadcast radio and television between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m., when there is reasonable risk that children may be in the audience.
The FCC defines profane material as “including language so grossly offensive to members of the public who actually hear it as to amount to a nuisance.” Like indecency, profane speech is prohibited on broadcast radio and television between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.
The following article, which appeared on MSNBC.com in 2006, cites a study that suggests teen sexual activity can be directly related to listening to sexually charged song lyrics.
We asked our Moms Council to weigh in. Their answers are listed below.
This week's Moms Council contributors: Lisa Bass is the mother of two boys (ages 10 and 9) and one girl (5) and Jen Walker is the mom to two daughters, ages 2 and 4.
Do you or will you monitor/regulate the music that your children
listen to? If so, how?
Lisa Bass: At this point yes, they are 10, 9 & 5. They can not buy songs on iTunes without me giving them permission. I know what songs they are listening to on the radio and we often talk about the lyrics.
Jen Walker: The overprotective mom in me says I'll monitor/regulate what my kids listen to, but the practical me knows this is tough to put into practice and probably unrealistic. There is so much sexually explicit material on the airwaves already that it is impossible to listen to pop music without being exposed to lyrics full of offensive language that degrades women and makes men seem like sex-starved addicts who think of nothing else. As my children get older, I hope we'll talk about the music they chose to listen to and why the words matter, but I don't think I will make certain music off limits (that might only increase their desire to listen to it, after all!). If they persist in listening to the "wrong songs," hopefully my broken record method of repeatedly talking about the lyrics with them will be enough to turn them on to songs with different, positive messages.
Do you believe that listening to music with sexually offensive
lyrics can in turn cause a teenager to act out sexually?
Lisa Bass: I don't think the lyrics are the only factor in determining whether a teenager becomes sexually active. Like the article says, kids need to have a good sense of who they are and they'll realize what's appropriate and what's not. Kids that are well grounded will realize it's just a song that sounds good. And it's not okay to treat others disrespectfully. They'll realize who is a good role model and who isn't. As with everything, the teaching needs to start at home. Parents need to be involved in their children's lives and parents should be the number one influence in a kid's life, not music.
Jen Walker: I don't know if listening to music with sexually offensive lyrics can in turn cause a teenager to act out sexually, but I do know that nothing like a conversation about sex with your mom or dad will make you want to turn to a new topic . . .which might mean turning the dial (um . . . do we even have dials anymore?) to a new station, too!
Do you believe that the FCC or some other agency should more
seriously regulate the music that is allowed to be played on public
Lisa Bass: I'm torn about this...the protective mother in me screams "YES, don't let my babies hear this trash!". But the American in me says freedom of speech is a right that needs to be protected.
Jen Walker: As a mom, I don't really think about someone else regulating it, I think more about what I need to be doing with it relative to my own children.