An Open Letter to the F.C.C.: What Happened to Television?

This is an open letter I’ve meant to write to the Federal Communications Commission for quite some time now.  It involves a few questions I would like to have answered by the commission regarding, bluntly, why they exist of they do not do what they were originally intended to do.  So, here goes:

To whom it may concern,

At your inception, the goal of the FCC was to properly regulate media and all other forms of communication, assuring honesty in media, fairness in competition, regulating the entire spectrum of media as an independent agency of the United States government, defined by Title 47 of the United States Code.  Since then, you have moved into the areas of broadband, public safety and homeland security.

Somehow within this jumbled mess of titles and areas of concrete control, you have emerged as an organization that is too preoccupied telling the Family Guy writers what they can and cannot show or say on the air – no matter how inane – to actually regulate the areas of media you were designed to regulate in the first place.  Knowing this, if you really are a worthwhile piece of the federal tax-pool pie, I would appreciate it if you could answer these questions regarding your complete avoidance of regulating honesty in advertising and media:

Why is it that today I turned on the History Military Channel and watched a documentary on Hitler conspiring with aliens during World War II?  There is no actual empirical evidence of this ever happening, yet it is airing on a network called the History Channel.  How is this not a violation of honesty in media?

Why is America the only country wherein Fox News is allowed to put the word “News” in their title?  Fox News, as well as its counterpart, MSNBC, air almost nothing but editorial shows expressing nothing more than opinions.  This is a violation of honesty in media, as these are editorial shows airing on networks with the word “News” in the title, with the aforementioned word flashing across the screen in logos and tickers throughout the entire show.  It is misleading and intentionally dishonest, and is the very thing you were intended to prevent.  Why is this happening?

Why did I skim through the Biography channel’s programming today and see a straight 28-hour block of Celebrity Ghost Stories, My Ghost Story, My Ghost Story: Caught on Camera, The uneXplained, and Paranormal State?  Simple relative question: If anyone were to walk into a book store and see books on ghost hunting in the biography section, they would probably say something, right?  Let the staff know the book has been misplaced and probably should be in the New Age or How-To section?  Why, then, do we find this same discrepancy on television and say nothing?  Why are you saying nothing?  These are not biography shows – these are paranormal shows, and do not belong on a network that is presenting these stories dishonestly as biographical tales.

Why is it that I turned on a channel formerly known as The Sci-Fi Channel, now known as Syfy, and watched a professional wrestling show?  Last I checked, there weren’t a whole lot of elements of science fiction in professional wrestling.  The WWE writers aren’t exactly borrowing a whole lot from Douglas Adams, if you know what I mean.  Why is this happening.  Once again, this is a dishonest representation of a product and should not be ignored.

Why is there a 16-hour block of The Dog Whisperer on WILD today?  He talks to domesticated animals, correct?  Is that really a wildlife show?  No.  Why is this allowed to happen?

Why did I just turn the channel to Discovery to find a half-hour reality show about people who frequent auctions?  It’s okay if I miss this episode, though, since at 8:00 tomorrow morning, there is a six-hour straight block of it, followed by another six-hour block of Undercover Boss.  Somehow this has something to do with discovery.  Maybe I’m just not smart enough to see it, but I somehow doubt this to be the case.  I think the real problem is that Discovery no longer has anything to do with discovering anything, except how much revenue mindless reality television can generate.  Why is this clear violation of media honesty allowed to happen?

On the History Channel right now is a full day of Ice Road Truckers.  This is a mild step up from their usual quality programming including Cajun Pawn Stars, Shark Wranglers, Ancient Aliens and American Pickers.  How do any of these relate to history.  Well, Ancient Aliens could refer to history if it weren’t a tinfoil-hat-laden conspiracy hypothesis program.  How does any of this relate to actual empirical history?  It doesn’t, and therefore should not be allowed to reach air on a channel called The History Channel.  It is misleading and dishonest programming, in the latter case, misrepresented as real historical fact.

Why is The Learning Channel airing I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant?  Am I supposed to be learning something from this show?  I mean, other than learning that my jaded and cynical view of humanity is probably the correct light in which to see the rest of my species.  The same with 20 Years, 20 Duggars, Hoarding: Buried Alive, or Say Yes to the Dress.  What am I learning from these shows?  Nothing?  That’s correct.  Again, this is misleading and dishonest program marketing and should not be allowed if your organization were doing its job.

Do I need to tell you the last time I saw music on Music Television?  The last time I saw a video hit on Video Hits-1?  The last time I learned anything about homes and/or gardens on Home and Garden Television?  The last time I saw something True on Tru TV?  The last time I saw something Artistic and Arts & Entertainment?  The last time I learned anything about animals on Animal Planet?  Why am I watching Life’s Too Short and An Idiot Abroad on the Science Channel?  Why am I watching COPS, Cheaters, and Campus PD on G4?  Multiple contemporary and original television shows on American Movie Classics?  

You wonder why Americans are getting dumber? It’s not the schools – it’s the fact that you turn on something called the History Channel, and learn about how Hitler conspired with aliens to build pyramids as a beacon to communicate with Martian lizard men.  Honestly, the only networks on television that are honest about what their product is are the networks I don’t watch: The sports networks.  In other words, FCC, in the words of Bob 1: “What would you say…you do here?”

Thank you.


The Nerd Monkey


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