Watchdogs bark at Murdoch

Fox 'dishonored' for corroding American values

WASHINGTON — Conservative media watchdog group Empower America will announce today that it is “dishonoring” Rupert Murdoch and his Fox Television Network with a “Silver Sewer Award.” The group also plans to give Murdoch a “lifetime achievement award” for playing a role in the corrosion of American values.

The awards are being bestowed, according to Empower America, “in recognition of Fox’s outrageous contribution to the degradation and coarsening of our culture and its unswerving dedication to the pursuit of profit above principle.”

This is the third Silver Sewer Award handed out by Empower America. Previous winners were Seagram CEO Edgar Bronfman and CBS topper Mel Karmazin.

Empower America founder William Bennett told Daily Variety that he has found the programming on Murdoch’s network particularly galling since the media mogul professes to be a conservative. “I am embarrassed and disappointed by a fellow conservative,” he said.

Murdoch has “built his empire on dirty jokes,” said Bennett, adding that “someone needs to call him on it.”

In response to the news that it is getting the award, Fox Broadcasting released a statement pointing out that the average American home now receives 57 television channels. “We value the freedom of choice and respect and reinforce every viewer’s ability to choose entertainment they believe is most appropriate for themselves,” the statement said.

Bennett said he has seen some selections of the new Fox series “Action” and that it clearly crosses the line of decency. The media watchdog called on Murdoch to stop using raunch to build ratings. “He doesn’t need the money,” said Bennett.

Meanwhile, the House approved a resolution Monday praising a group of advertisers known as the Family Friendly Programming Forum for asking the networks for more family-oriented fare. The nonbinding measure “encourages the media and American advertisers to further a family-friendly television environment within which appropriate advertisements can accompany the programming.”