Right now the FCC, AKA the Federal Communications Commission, is reconsidering its mandate of managing decency on broadcast television. Some are saying that the FCC is no help at all, as illustrated by the eons spent litigating and regulating Janet Jackson's nipple, and should be shuttered, while others are screaming that without a moral watchdog the broadcast nets will be awash with pornography.
As I've said before, hundreds of times, you could get rid of the FCC today, and the networks would jump straight into nudity and foul language galore, for about a season, then they'd probably go back to being even less sexual, violent, or raunchy as they are now.
Look at HBO, the most successful channel to offer the R-Rated combo of nudity, profanity, and extreme violence, and look at its most successful, critically acclaimed, and/or influential original shows like The Sopranos, Game Of Thrones, Sex & The City, The Wire, Boardwalk Empire, and The Larry Sanders Show.
All, to different degrees, has or had nudity, violence, profanity, and mature subject matter in them. However, if you edited out, or toned down those elements, the shows would probably still sell. But look at the HBO shows that were built solely around the promise of graphic sex, and most either fail outright, or just sort of limp around for a while with little or no impact on the cultural landscape.
Now look at network shows that try to sell themselves as "sexy" a classic example being NBC's debacle The Playboy Club.
|The sexy show about sexy people doing sexy stuff in sexy outfits|
The network spent tons of money marketing how sexy the show was. They even had the Parent's Television Council condemn it before it even aired for being so damn sexy. The day before its premiere NBC's executives were patting each other on the back because all that sexiness was going to ensure that everyone in the world was going to watch it making it the most successful show in the world.
The Playboy Club was pretty well cancelled about halfway through the pilot episode because the ratings were so poor.
Why did it fail?
Because beyond the promise of network television level sexiness, the show really didn't even pretend to offer much more.
Then there's what some call the water cooler effect. Imagine coming across a group of people at the office water-cooler talking about what they watched the night before. Do you want to be the one who bragged about watching the "sex show" on NBC? Or even if they were talking about a show on HBO, are you going to be the one who foregoes chatting about plot twists and "red weddings" to offer your opinion on an actress' boobs?
No, that would make you look like a scrofulent pervert.
Besides, when someone sees a show whose ad campaign hypes the sex angle, they unconsciously see it as code for "This show will be boring, so here are some boobies to distract you." They don't need TV to give them nudity when the internet offers nudity and sexuality more graphic than even HBO and "Skinemax" are willing to go, and cheaper too.
The people running networks and freaking out over the FCC loosening its mandate shouldn't need to have me explain this to them.
It's just plain common sense.