Yesterday, Sumner Redstone gave a speech where he reportedly blasted the `climate of fearâ€™ and self-censorship created by the federal focus on indecent TV content. At a â€œfreedom of speechâ€ event organized by The Media Institute, [which is really a lobbying group working on behalf of the media conglomerates] Redstone said that â€œLet us rise above the temptation to censor or fine or regulate the most basic and primary of our constitutional rights. Not only because it is an improper role for government, but also because it is not what Americans want from their government.â€
But Redstone really isnâ€™t a supporter of free speech. Otherwise, why would his MTV Networks just announce a deal to distribute video content over the Chinese search engine Baidu? Baidu itself engages in self-censorship to appease the Chinese government. We assume part of Redstoneâ€™s China deal includes a provision that any content deemed objectionable to the government will be quickly trashed.
We dislike the atmosphere of pressure about content coming from both parties at the FCC and many in Congress. But we donâ€™t believe in saying we stand up for freedom of speech in one country, but turn a blind (but profitable) eye elsewhere.