FCC Hires Religious Right Activist To Serve As ‘Decency Advisor’

A Religious Right activist may soon hold sway over what Americans see on network and cable television.

Penny Nance has been hired by the Federal Communications Commission’s Office of Strategic Planning and Policy Analysis to help formulate policies governing what constitutes indecency over the airwaves.

Nance until recently served as a board member for Concerned Women for America, a Washington-based Religious Right organization founded by evangelical-preacher-turned-fiction-author Tim LaHaye and his wife, Beverly.

MediaWeek reported that Nance’s hiring may signal a new crackdown on risqué television programming by the FCC.

“The move may herald a reinvigorated campaign against broadcast indecency and bring renewed pressure on cable to reconsider its racy offerings,” reported the publication.

Religious Right groups have been agitating for a crackdown on television for years. The drive gained new momentum in January of 2004, when singer Janet Jackson’s right breast was briefly exposed during a Super Bowl half-time show.

In January, MediaWeek reported, Nance was among several Religious Right leaders who wrote to President George W. Bush, asking him to nominate an FCC head who would crack down on indecency. Also signing were Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, Donald Wildmon of the American Family Association and Phyllis Schlafly of the Eagle Forum.

The letter asserted, “The breakdown of standards on TV and radio is a ‘moral values’ problem we cannot ignore.” It also cited “a huge indecency problem on basic cable channels.”

Bush subsequently appointed Kevin Martin, a candidate backed by the Religious Right, to the chairmanship of the FCC. Martin has held the slot for five months but has not yet imposed any fines on broadcasters for indecency.

Some observers believe Martin is poised to act against 50 indecency complaints that are pending against the FCC and that Nance was hired to facilitate that.

“Why else would [Martin] have someone like that on board?” an anonymous Washington attorney asked MediaWeek.