Monday, January 25, 2010

The Student Film/Channel 39 issue (tonight's hot issue)

As reported earlier, item 6.1 on the agenda of tonight’s meeting of the SOCCCD Board of Trustees is a recommendation that our colleges’ TV channels only broadcast programming—including student film and TV shows—with a PG rating.

This would render all college TV broadcasting harmless and "sans edge."

Nancy Padberg seems to be the Puritan behind this thing.

As near as I can tell (as I explain later), despite the 6.1 verbiage (see immediately below), Saddleback College had in some sense been broadcasting student films and other programming that meet the less stringent criteria of PG-13.

Surely that standard is more realistic than PG. These kids are supposed to be learning real-world skills, not Ozzie Nelson skills.

Lemme explain. Let's start with item 6.1:

In September, Nancy Padberg requested reports on the Saddleback College “Communication Arts Program” and its “Film Program.” She seemed to have a bee in her bonnet.

On November 17, a report was made available (it was placed in a room for viewing). Don't know why they did that. It's a public document.

I’ve seen it.

Page 202 of the report covers “Television.” As you know, Saddleback College broadcasts channel 39 on basic cable (through Cox). IVC broadcasts the similar Channel 33 in Irvine.

The report explains Channel 39’s programming, which consists of the usual stuff—telecourses, board meetings, college promotional materials—and “Student Productions including student films [and] programs produced by TV Production classes….”

That's good.

The report explains that cable programming is different than broadcast television programming. For my purposes here, the main difference is that “since cable TV channels cannot be viewed by those (e.g., children) without the proper equipment [try to refrain from making a joke here], the FCC’s rules regarding acceptable content do not apply to cable TV networks, allowing greater freedom in the use of profanity, sex and violence.”

So premium cable channels can broadcast just about anything—even pornography. “Basic cable, on the other hand, has not traditionally been as loose with regard to content. …[M]any basic cable networks self-regulate their program content, particularly with regard to language and nudity.”

In recent years, however, basic cable stations have begun to broadcast R-rated movies, sans editing. According to the report, Saddleback’s Channel 39 is “similar to other cable channels ... in that, while we can freely air R rated content, we voluntarily self-regulate….”

The report explains that “student productions…generally receive several layers of screening prior to being aired,” but none constitutes censorship. They are “more of a check against poor quality….”

That makes sense.

Eventually, “Student productions deemed worthy of airing…and that meets our internal standards of decency…are then given to the department staff and [are] typically again screened and then programmed by Mark Kruhmin.”

This brings us to Channel 39’s internal [self-imposed] standards. In fact, the report states that the Channel uses the PG-13 standard, not PG:

You can find much of this history at Wikipedia.

Next, we are offered some “basic principles” regarding what constitutes PG-13:

If I understand the situation—that Mathur is recommending that the colleges apply, not the PG-13 standard, but the stricter (Puritan-friendly) PG standard—the board seems poised to make a change that could really hurt these programs. Students need to be allowed to pursue film and TV production as it is, not as Nancy Padberg wants it to be. If the TV stations have broadcast PG-13 programming, they should be allowed to continue to do so.

Or so it seems to me.

Well, we’ll see what happens tonight.

Below is an official statement of the PG and PG-13 standards.


Anonymous said...

Boogie Nights is a great film.

Anonymous said...

Typical conservative busybodies.

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