Monday is 'Turn Off TV Day'

July 7, 2008 - 7:02 PM

( - A New York-based media watchdog group is calling on TV viewers to turn off the tube on Valentine's Day to publicize "the immorality of today's television and get people to do something about it," a spokesman for the group told

"Turn Off TV Day," now in its ninth year, is growing in popularity with people who object to immoral programming and feel powerless to do anything about it, Morality in Media (MIM) spokesman Patrick McGrath said.

Instead of watching TV, MIM suggests people should spend Valentine's Day in some combination of visiting a local museum, strolling in the park, seeing a good play, reading a book together, or helping out at their favorite charity. MIM also is asking people to take some action against the broadcast of smut.

"This year's action project is to get people to write to their key congressional leaders and urge them to get an elbow into the Federal Communications Commission and ask why aren't they enforcing the broadcast and decency laws, particularly with regard to television," McGrath told

"If we were getting any better or at least keeping at the same moral level, then we wouldn't have had this demand from the public and Congress for a V-chip," McGrath said. "But since the creative people in television, particularly on the broadcast side, have basically abdicated their moral responsibility, we now have to bring this to the attention of the general public, and frankly they're noticing."

The V-chip - a device Congress says should be inserted in all television sets to block objectionable programming - has not been hugely popular, even with people whose sets contain one.

"The TV rating system is based on the movie rating system and that's a joke in its own right. So the full force of the immorality is coming into play," McGrath said.

MIM also is calling on the congressional committees with oversight over the FCC to hold hearings on the FCC's requirement that complainants who allege violations of the federal broadcast indecency law must provide the FCC with a tape or a transcript of the alleged indecent programming.

"Very few complaints about TV indecency include tapes, because most viewers who make complaints were surprised by the assault and weren't taping the program," MIM president Robert Peters said in a statement.

The FCC's policy guarantees that the vast majority of indecency complaints are ignored by the FCC, and discourages viewers and listeners from making complaints, Peters said.

Because of the "see no evil, hear no evil, think no evil policy," standards of decency on broadcast TV "continue their downward spiral," he said.

"Not every profanity or mention of sex violates the broadcast indecency law, but it stretches the imagination to believe that little if any of the constant vulgarity, adult sex talk and promiscuous sexuality on TV is indecent," Peters said.

MIM called on Congress to extend the ban on broadcast indecency until 12 midnight and to enact legislation to curb indecent programming on cable television.

"Unless Congress takes measures to ensure that the FCC fulfills its responsibility to enforce the existing indecency law, a new indecency law will be an empty gesture," Peters said in a memo to all members of the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Senate Subcommittee on Communications.