We are the Decency Enforcement Center for Television, a nonprofit corporation based in the small northern Michigan city of St. Ignace (in the Straits of Mackinac area). Even though not based in Washington, New York or any other large city, we are able to use technology to access the courts and accomplish our purposes. Our acronym is "Decent TV", to capture what we are working to preserve, at some level, on our nation's broadcast airwaves. We are a tax exempt organization as granted by the IRS under the Internal Revenue Code, section 501 (c) (3). We are also registered as a charity with the Michigan Attorney General.
In order to understand why Decent TV was formed and its critical purpose, a little background on our nation's laws as to broadcast decency is necessary. In 1934, as broadcast radio became more available, Congress, representing the American people, passed the Radio Communication Act, which was signed into law. One of the law's provisions prohibited obscenity or indecency on the radio broadcast airwaves. In the years that followed, television started to also become available to citizens, using the broadcast airwaves. By the 1950's, TV usage was much more widespread, continuing to increase as time went on. There has never been a separate law enacted for broadcast television in the U.S., and all parties - the government and industry - have acted in a way that evidences an acceptance that the Radio Communication Act applies to broadcast television, as a form of "radio" communication.
From the 1970's, a number of federal court decisions limited the prohibition against broadcast indecency to the daytime hours before 10 p.m., while leaving the prohibition against obscenity in place on a 24 hour basis. However, a series of court cases have held that virtually nothing is considered legally to be "obscene", so that the area of broadcast indecency has become the legal battleground. There have also been court cases and Federal Communications Commission rulings to attempt to define "indecent" under this law for broadcasting.
For several decades, until after the year 2000, the FCC completely shirked and ignored its legal duty to enforce the law as to broadcast television, regardless of what the law was at the time, while it did take action against a few radio broadcasts. One such action against a radio broadcast led to the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case of Pacifica Foundation v FCC, the only Supreme Court ruling prior to 2009 on the topic. In Pacifica, the Court upheld the government's definition of "indecent" and its power to regulate its public airwaves by restricting indecency during the day, as constitutional under the First Amendment. That ruling remains in place and is current law, now thanks to Decent TV's successful legal defense in the Supreme Court in April, 2009 and now in June, 2012!
Several years ago, the FCC finally began to occasionally fine TV stations, after thousands of complaints from the American public about the vastly increasing amounts of broadcast televison indecency, including the infamous "Janet Jackson Super Bowl halftime".
FCC legal action against programs is something the televison broadcasters are not used to, and have not had to deal with, especially at a time when they are engaged in an agressive agenda to force all American citizens, including children of all ages, to see and hear indecency against their will, while attempting to make money doing so. So, when the FCC in 2006 found a couple of live awards shows on Fox network to have been "indecent", due to unbleeped live four letter words by third parties celebreties while accepting awards, Fox not only appealed the findings of the FCC to the U.S. Court of Appeals (the Second Circuit in New York City), but also requested the Court to find that the Radio Communications Act has somehow become unconstitutional. This is after that Act has been in place for over 70 years, held permanently constitutional by the Supreme Court in Pacifica, and is one of the most fundamental foundations of daily life in this nation, that virtually all citizens rely upon as part of the fabric of society. The other major TV broadcasters, CBS, NBC and ABC were quick to jump on board with Fox in the case in seeking to permanently eliminate any and all government legal regulation of its own airwaves, held in trust for the American citizens, and only used by the networks as a licensed privilege.
The networks argued in court for a new "right" to air and show virtually any level of explicit indecency into every home and place in the U.S. without any restraint or legal recourse by anyone. They want "anything goes" broadcasting, with an incomprehensibly high increase in both the level and amount of indecent programming children and adults would all be exposed to, whether they choose to be or not. Yet, all polls on the subject have consistently shown that the American public, by super majorities of 70% to 90 plus %, want stronger restrictions on broadcasting sexual content, not an elimination of restrictions. The networks have also proven that they no longer at all consider comments they receive from the viewing public as to content, and advertiser boycotts have had only some mixed and inconsistent success.