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Communication and the Super Bowl

Communication and the Super BowlThe Super Bowl itself is nothing more than a private football game contested between teams licensed by the National Football League (NFL). What makes it significant, however, is the sheer number of people who watch it. This year an estimated 140 million Americans watched the game (Barron, 2004, n.p.). This number does not include the millions more who watched the game around the world by satellite television. The show, therefore, offers a potentially large platform for advertisers, whether they be commercial or political. The real question is what First Amendment obligations does CBS, which had the rights to broadcast the Super Bowl this year, have regarding its broadcast.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulates broadcast content, whether it be on television, radio or some other medium that is broadcast by an American-based organization and that reaches the American people (Paulson, 2004, n.p.). The FCC has the power to sanction companies, usually through fines, that broadcast indecent programming between six a.m. and ten p.m.. Thus, the FCC arguably could sanction CBS for showing Janet Jackson's breast during its broadcast if it concludes that part of the broadcast was, in fact, indecent. The FCC, however, has no stated position on political speech on the airwaves beyond federal regulations that require networks to provide "equal time" for all political candidates to state their positions.

The First Amendment, therefore, protects CBS' right to choose which advertisements it will show during its broadcast. CBS was free, therefore, to reject the advertisement intended by the liberal political association MoveOn's advertisement showed a series of young children working in labor-intensive industries to pay off the country's significant national budget deficit. The advertisement was a clear political statement against Bush Administration policies that had created the...

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Communication and the Super Bowl. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 12:49, April 26, 2019, from