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UCCtruths

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Univision heavily fined for lack of children's programming

Saturday, February 24, 2007

The UCC Office of Communication is "celebrating" over an apparent decision by the Federal Communication Commission to impose the largest fine ever on Univision for failing to provide quality educational programming. From the New York Times:
The commission has decided to impose the heavy fine — disclosed by Kevin J. Martin, the chairman of the commission, in an interview — as a tough rebuke to Univision for claiming to meet its obligations to broadcast educational children’s programs by showing the Latino soap opera “Complices al Rescate” (“Friends to the Rescue”) and other so-called telenovelas.

The penalty, part of a settlement that will allow the company to proceed with a buyout deal, is nearly three times the previous record fine of $9 million, imposed against Qwest Communications for violating telephone interconnection rules in 2004, and significantly more than the largest indecency penalty, $3.5 million, levied against Viacom that same year for remarks by Howard Stern and other so-called shock jocks on the radio.
While there is reasonable concern about educational programming on television, is this really a justice issue? The Office of Communication, Inc. (OC Inc. for short) is the media advocacy arm of the United Church of Christ - a legacy of the UCC's fight in the civil rights era when media options were limited to a few television and radio stations where the programming didn't reflect the ethnic diversity of the audience, primarily in the south. While the issue of children's educational programming is suitable for the FCC to investigate, is it really a justice issue on par with civil rights? According to Rev. Robert Chase, the UCC’s communications director, supporting children's educational programming is actually a mandated by the Gospels:
“The United Church of Christ has a long history of advocacy on behalf of children,” Chase said. “Media has such a profound impact upon society, especially upon the youngest and most vulnerable among us. It is, therefore, consistent with the Gospel mandate to care for ‘the least of these’ that our concern extends into the broadcast arena.”
I'm just thankful I didn't have a mouthful of coffee while reading that.

Chase has a knack for twisting the most obscure communication issues into justice issues. Back in 2003, according to the Washington Post, the UCC's Office of Communication was part of an unethical campaign to block WorldCom's licenses it used for its long distance and Internet services. Bob Chase and team were working with lobbyists who were paid by WorldCom competitors to sink the company. The "grass roots" campaign fizzled as it became obvious that the initiative was generated by WorldCom competitors - with the help of the UCC.
posted by UCCtruths, Saturday, February 24, 2007

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