The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America – the nation’s largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization representing nearly 1,000 congregations nationwide – has joined with others in a letter sent to President George W. Bush urging him, in the wake of the resignation of Michael Powell, to appoint a new Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission who is committed to continuing that agency’s enforcement of broadcast indecency laws.
Excerpts from the letter, signed by UOJCA executive Rabbi T. Hersh Weinreb along with more than 40 other national and state leaders, include the following:
Years ago, TV broadcasters had a strong industry-wide code and self-imposed internal standards that generally reflected community standards. However, this is no longer the case. Studies show how sexual (talk & action) and vulgar broadcast TV has become. Opinion polls have consistently found that a large majority of adult Americans are offended by and concerned about sex and vulgarity on TV. Countless articles critical of TV sex and vulgarity have also appeared in both religious and secular publications. Evidence also mounts that children are adversely affected by media sex and vulgarity.
During the 1990s (and beyond), radio “shock jocks” in markets across the nation violated the broadcast indecency law with little or no fear of the FCC….During the past 18 months, the FCC has begun to levy large fines against radio station licensees that carry so-called “shock jocks”… These were steps forward for the FCC, but if there is to be a lasting impact, these steps must be repeated and expanded upon until broadcasters understand they are not above the law – and that won’t happen unless Chairman Powell’s successor is committed to enforcing indecency laws.
Rabbi Weinreb, a clinical psychologist in addition to leading communal rabbi noted that “no community or family can entirely shield itself from the negatives effects of a coarse popular culture. We join with other concerned citizens to urge the President to appoint an FCC chairman who will continue down the road of enforcing America’s broadcast decency laws to the benefit of all our families.”