The Berkeley Daily Planet
Tuesday, August 20, 2002

Defining Indecent

Dear Editor,

The rumors aren’t true! The rumors that Dr. Susan Block and I bribed the City Attorney to write the “INDECENT CABLE TELEVISION PROGRAMMING” ordinance in such a way that our shows are not effected by it...except that it allows our shows to be aired on B-TV anytime day or night! She did it all by herself. She got rid of the “safe harbor” time slot of after 10pm for shows with adult content. In its place, she created an “indecent” time slot from midnight to 6am. Our shows are not indecent. Linda Maio said this at the last Council meeting as she voted against the ordinance. So our shows then could be shown any time!

In fact, no show airing on B-TV will fall into the definition of “indecent” as defined in the ordinance. To be “indecent,” a show, when viewed as a whole with respect to minors, applying contemporary Berkeley standards, is designed to appeal to prurient interest AND contains patently offensive representations or depictions of sexual conduct, normal, or perverted, actual or simulated, or patently offensive representations or depictions of masturbation, excretory functions or lewd exhibition of the genitals AND taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value for minors.

This is a very hard test, if it is applied fairly. As Dona Spring said as she voted against this, what is of value for a 17 year old, for a 12 year old, and for a 12 year old watching with her parents are all different. Under this ordinance, if the show has value for a 17 year old, it isn’t indecent...if it is applied fairly.

But it doesn’t have any safe guards to assure that this law will be applied fairly. In fact, it makes us producers vulnerable to be hassled by anybody who doesn’t like our shows. (The final vote on this ordinance is scheduled for the next City Council meeting.)

Frank Moore

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