LOS ANGELES–A radio commentator who was fired from Santa Monica, Calif.-based KCRW-FM for allowing an obscene word to be broadcast is says the incident is having a chilling effect on colleagues in public radio.
“That I could get fired over this has everybody in a white-hot panic,” Sandra Tsing Loh told guests of a Beverly Hills Bar Assn. lunch on censorship. “I think I’ve gotten more media attention than would merit for a person who works for $150 a week.”
Loh was fired after a technician failed to bleep the word “fuck” during a Feb. 29 radio commentary on knitting. She was offered her job back, but declined to resume “The Loh Life” on KCRW.
Other panelists offered opinions on the indecency issue, which has prompted legal action by federal lawmakers.
First Amendment attorney Stephen Rohde, a former president of the American Civil Liberties Union, said he was worried that the Federal Communications Commission’s recent crackdown could lead to the stifling of political views.
“We cannot trivialize the threat that’s posed when you empower an arm of the government to have powers over the ideas that are expressed,” Rohde said.
Part of the problem is vague wording of the legal definition of obscenity, said Jeffrey Douglas, chairman of the Free Speech Coalition and an attorney for the adult industry.
“There is no possible way that an artist or anyone else who is attempting to communicate can tell in advance how the material will be deemed by a jury based on local contemporary community standards,” Douglas said.
As vp standards and practices for Fox Cable Networks, Darlene Lieblich said the networks are now protecting the public from words and images that wouldn’t raise an eyebrow in international markets.
“The atmosphere in the cable industry right now is [one of] great fear that we are going to be scrutinized and regulated,” Lieblich said.
Jesse Hiestand writes for Billboard sister publication The Hollywood Reporter.