Media

Rep. Jim Moran Wants to Ban "Racy" Viagra Ads

| by Reason Foundation

Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) has reintroduced legislation that would require the Federal Communications Commission to treat ads for Viagra and other erectile dysfunction drugs as indecent, meaning they could be legally aired only between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. In 2005, when he introduced a similar bill, Moran complained:

"You can hardly watch primetime television or a major sporting event with your family without ads warning of the dangers of a "four-hour experience" airing every 10 minutes....They just push the envelope too far....There's just too much sexual innuendo."

Yet the Families for ED Advertising Decency Act makes an exception for "product placement or other display or mention merely of the trademarked name or generic name for such a medication." So a prime-time drama could slip in a Pfizer-sponsored, sexual-innuendo-saturated subplot in which Viagra saves a marriage, as long as no ads for the drug popped up during the commercial breaks. A sitcom could spring a joke about a chemically induced 12-hour boner. And since the FCC's indecency regulations apply only to broadcasting, cable and satellite channels would remain unleashed, free to air ads for erection-promoting drugs at any time of day.

Then why is Moran going to such lengths? As Moran explained in 2005, it's all about "exposing the hypocrisy of some of these religious-right extremists," who push the interests of pharmaceutical companies even though they know those companies help people have sex. At least, I think that's Moran's point. As for why the congressman has such a hard-on about Viagra and its various competitors, he said it was because the federal goverment was indirectly subsidizing advertising for such drugs by covering prescriptions for them under Medicare.

Reason coverage of recent developments in FCC regulation of broadcast indecency here, here, and here. In 2003 I analyzed a Jim Moran boner that lasted less than a minute but had people talking for weeks.