The Debate Over Decency On American Television

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photoThe Janet Jackson wardrobe malfunction during her live duo performance with Justin Timberlake at last year's Super Bowl halftime show caused uproar among TV watchers and observers alike. CBS was hit by the Federal Communications Commission with a record $550,000 fine.

In the year since, there's been a moral crusade underway to clean up television. Family values groups have flooded the FCC with indecency complaints. Networks from ABC to PBS are hunkering down, some say caving in, to an agenda that looks much more pointed than simple decency.

Recently, PBS had to censor an episode of its children's program "Postcards from Buster," in which the bunny visits children whose parents are lesbians. And at the 39th Super Bowl halftime show, 62-year-old former Beatle Paul McCartney played it cautiously safe.

Hear about decency, indecency and the heat on American TV culture one year after Janet Jackson's breast showed up at the 38th Super Bowl halftime show.


David Folkenflik, covers media issues for NPR;

Vince Horiuchi, televison writer for The Salt Lake City Tribune;

Eric Boehlert, senior writer for;

Lara Mahaney, Director of Corporate and Entertainment Affairs, Parents TV Council;

Gillian Piper — she and her partner were to be featured in an episode of PBS's "Postcards from Buster"

This program aired on February 7, 2005.


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