Tonight on TV: the indecency debate

Friday, April 23, 2004
Program co-hosts: Close Up’s John Milewski, left, with Ken Paulson.

WASHINGTON — April is First Amendment Month on “Close Up on C-SPAN,” and tonight the First Amendment Center and the Close Up Foundation explore the raging debate over indecency on the public broadcast airwaves.

Tonight’s guests will be Ellen Ratner of Talk Radio News Service and Brent Bozell of the Parents Television Council. They will discuss recent Federal Communication Commission efforts to limit broadcast indecency.

The First Amendment Center and the Close Up Foundation are presenting a series of three television programs this month examining current First Amendment issues being debated across the nation.

From the backlash following the now-infamous Super Bowl halftime show to the Supreme Court decision on the Pledge of Allegiance, First Amendment topics remain at the center of American life and culture, with First Amendment rights providing the blueprint for a free and open society.

The programs are hosted by “Close Up on C-SPAN” executive producer/moderator John Milewski and First Amendment Center executive director Ken Paulson.

“We’re honored to be able to explore First Amendment freedoms in partnership with the Close Up Foundation, an organization that does such a fine job of educating and informing the next generation of America’s citizens,” said Ken Paulson, executive director of the First Amendment Center. “This series will reflect the full range of the First Amendment, encompassing everything from freedom of religion to rock ‘n’ roll.”

The “Close Up” program is focusing on current debates and also provide historical context on the First Amendment as it relates to religion, music, and broadcasting decency standards.

Close Up on C-SPAN is seen weekly at 7 p.m. ET Fridays on C-SPAN. Please refer to your local listings for the cable channel assigned to C-SPAN on your system.

The programs:

  • ONE NATION UNDER GOD? — Friday, April 9
    The series kicks off with a discussion of the Supreme Court’s deliberations over objections to the phrase “under God,” as part of the Pledge of Allegiance.

  • FREEDOM SINGS — Friday, April 16
    The ongoing Freedom Sings concert series, created by the First Amendment Center and touring college campuses nationwide since 2002, tells the story of three centuries of banned or censored music in America. Freedom Sings artists will discuss the project and perform musical numbers from the critically acclaimed multi-media production.

    The series concludes with a discussion of the Federal Communication Commission’s efforts to address “indecency” over the public airwaves.

    Following the April 5 news conference, there will be a video presentation on the First Amendment Center’s First Amendment Schools project. Teachers from around the nation who have brought students to Close Up in Washington will attend the presentation. Media are welcome to attend.

    The First Amendment Center works to preserve and protect First Amendment freedoms through information and education. The center serves as a forum for the study and exploration of free-expression issues, including freedom of speech, of the press and of religion, the right to assemble and petition the government. The First Amendment Center, with offices at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., and Arlington, Va., is an operating program of the Freedom Forum and is associated with the Newseum.

    The Close Up Foundation is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan citizenship education organization. Since 1970, Close Up has worked to promote responsible and informed participation in the democratic process through a variety of educational programs. “Close Up on C-SPAN” is a weekly public affairs/news discussion program available to more than 75 million cable households. Rotating features include Close Up @ the Newseum, Close Up at the Wilson Center, and Close Up in the Classroom. For more information about Close Up, visit

    C-SPAN, the Cable Satellite Public Affairs Network, provides viewers with access to the live, gavel-to-gavel proceedings of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate and to other forums where public policy is discussed, debated, and decided. For more information about C-SPAN, visit

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    Media contact: Gene Policinski, 615/727-1303 or

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