Decency Enforcement Center for Television Website

Protecting America's Families

About Decent TV

Against the backdrop of the request by the major U.S. television broadcast networks (Fox, ABC, CBS and NBC) in 2006 to the U.S. Court of Appeals to find the nation's laws restricting broadcast indecency to be unconstitutional, the seeds of Decent TV were planted. A well established organization, Morality in Media, sounded the alarm. Thomas North, at the time a Probate and Juvenile Court judge from northern Michigan, contacted Morality in Media and offered to volunteer on his own time to assist them in drafting an "amicus" (friend of the court) brief in the court case, to argue that the nation's laws are constitutional and need to be upheld. MIM agreed, and work was commenced, but it was discovered that due to the court's page limitations on briefs, not all the necessary material could be used. North ended up drafting and filing his own amicus brief, as did MIM their own, complimenting one another's arguments.

In the meantime, the FCC had also fined CBS affiliates for the "Janet Jackson Super Bowl Halftime" display of brief female nudity prior to 10 p.m. CBS appealed those fines, and joined by Fox, ABC and NBC,  used that court case (in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Philadelphia) to also make its request to strike down all of the nation's laws restricting broadcast indecency. MIM and North filed similar amicus briefs in that case. It became apparent that the networks would continue to use a "shotgun" approach to try to get some federal court somewhere to strike down the laws, by filing an appeal everytime the FCC issued an indecency fine for TV. The networks indeed began to further increase their indecent programming even more, to create more opportunties to do just that.

It also became apparent to North, who had since left the judicial bench himself, that such cases would require more than an individual effort to argue the necessary laws and facts for the courts in a credible way. It was learned that none of the other organizations in the U.S., as fine as they are in their work, are equipped or exclusively dedicated to advocacy in the courts as to these TV issues. Other organizations do excellent work in lobbying Congress (as shown by its ten fold increase in indeceny fines legislation in recent years) and boycotting advertisers, but all it takes to undo all of the protective laws is for a few unelected federal judges to overstep their power.  This is especially true if they are not accurately presented with the law and facts that apply. And the history of our broadcast indecency laws reveals that such judicial and executive decisions had already greatly eroded the law over the past few decades, without strong advocacy, to a point that the very quality of civilized life in the U.S was at stake.

In March, 2007, Decency Enforcement Center for Television was incorporated in Michigan for the express purpose of advocating, legally , the continuation, defense and enforcement of decency laws, especially those for television. Those laws have been enacted by large majorities of the American public, who want them continued and even strengthened, through Congress, and which secure the human rights of Americans to be free of unwanted indecency in their homes and in the general public. The broadcast airwaves, by law, are a public place, no different than streets, sidewalks and parks, and people must be free to go to those places at any time without risk that children or unconsenting adults may risk being exposed to unwanted indecency. Decent TV speaks in court cases from the perspective of the nation's citizens who have a constitutional right to regulate, through Congress, what is broadcast into their homes and public places.