Big media fight back

Not only was Janet Jackson recently named the second most foolish American, only second to her own brother Michael, but her exposed nipple at the Super Bowl is sending shock waves through the American media industry. The FCC is cracking down on TV channels and radio stations, threatening with major fines or license revocations should they use bad language or show inappropriate body parts.

But many of the country’s media companies have finally decided the feds have gone too far. Viacom, Fox, RadioOne and other players are asking the FCC to loosen up on its rules. But big media is far from united in its requests. Question is, what does it take to get the other big players to react?

Freedom, what freedom?

Speaking of press freedom, the Secretary General of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), Aidan White, recently said that Belgium’s poor legal protection for journalists makes it “quite inappropriate” for it to host the EU institutions.

“It seems to me”, he said, “that for Belgium to be one of the worst countries in terms of legal protection at national level for protection of sources makes it quite inappropriate to be the centre of the European Union political institutions which are responsible for the legal and economic administration of a region of 25 countries”.

His comment was sparked by the fact that Hans-Martin Tillack – a correspondent for Stern – was arrested at his home on Friday 19 March and taken to his office where computer equipment, mobile phones and files were seized.

Back home in Sweden, Jan Scherman, the Managing Director of Sweden’s largest TV channel TV4 yesterday answered questions by the Committee on the Constitution regarding allegations that the Swedish Prime Minister Göran Persson in September 2002 threatened him. It was during the final weeks of the election campaign that Persson supposedly called Scherman to a meeting and threatened him with what would happen if TV4 did not change its “heavy investment” in a victory for the right wing parties.

Press freedom not a US custom

The Swedish Journalist Association (SJF) has sent a letter to the US Secretary of State Colin Powell in protest of the US Immigration Authorities’ treatment of foreign journalists. SJF claims that journalists have been treated as criminals, been imprisoned and denied contact with their countries’ embassies.

That reminds me of something I read in Dan Gillmor’s outline to his book Making the News.

The biggest governmental threats are outside the United States, of course, where governments and other powerful players routinely intimidate journalists, or worse. In addition, governments elsewhere are much more likely to control cyberspace. We’ll ask whether Making the News has a prayer of working in places where the First Amendment is viewed as a crazy American notion. (I’m optimistic.)

It’s easy to make fun of Americans’ ignorance about the world outside their own continent, but for anyone, even us who are not journalists, it becomes painfully obvious that we are all viewed upon as possible terrorists when we enter the US customs having to leave fingerprints and get our mug shots taken. Kudos to Brazil who had the guts to protest.

New book about Bush PR strategies

Here’s a book that I want to read. Spinsanity will publish a book this fall called All the President’s Spin: George W. Bush, the Media and the Truth.

All the President’s Spin will provide the definitive non-partisan account of the Bush administration’s unrelenting dishonesty about public policy. The book will demonstrate how the White House has broken new ground in using misleading sales tactics to promote its policies and manipulate the media.”

Slime Time

Mother Jones has a good analysis about how media with different political agendas react to the “sex rumours” about John Kerry.

“What’s a respectable media outlet to do when a story too juicy to ignore — but sleazy and unverified, and from a discredited, though occasionally accurate, source — starts making the rounds? Ignore it and miss the story? Pile on and look like scumbags when it turns out to be bogus?”