FCC seeks public comment in review of TV, radio decency policy

April 1 Mon Apr 1, 2013 6:35pm EDT

April 1 (Reuters) - U.S. regulators on Monday launched a review of policy governing the way it enforces broadcasts of nudity and profanity on radio and television and asked for public comment on whether its current approach should be amended.

The Federal Communications Commission issued a public notice inviting comment on whether it should focus its efforts on pursuing only the "most egregious" cases in which rules are broken, or focus on isolated cases of nudity and expletives uttered on radio and TV shows.

The public notice follows a Supreme Court ruling in June 2012 against a government crackdown some 10 years ago on nudity and profanity.

"We now seek comment on whether the full Commission should make changes to its current (egregious cases) broadcast indecency policies or maintain them as they are," the FCC said on Monday.

It asked for public input over the next 30 days on whether, for example, it should treat cases of nudity in the same way as profanity, and whether "deliberate and repetitive" use of expletives is necessary to prove indecency.

Since the Supreme Court ruling, the FCC said it had focused its enforcement on "egregious cases" and had handled a backlog of more than 1 million complaints since June 2012.

The Supreme Court said that the FCC rules were vague and that it had not given fair notice of a tougher stance that resulted in three-high profile incidents that resulted in complaints and fines against U.S. networks.

These included the broadcast of a glimpse of singer Janet Jackson's breast at a 2004 Super Bowl half time show.

Under a 2001 FCC policy that was amended in 2004, network and local radio and television channels can be fined up to $325,000 for a single fleeting expletive blurted out on a live show or for brief glimpses of nudity. Cable and satellite operators are not subject to such rules.

The FCC said that it would continue to enforce its current polices as usual during the comment period and that Monday's public notice did not alter any of its policies.

The TV industry has argued that policies have been inconsistent over the years, allowing the television broadcast of movie "Schindler's List" that includes nudity, but leading to fines against News Corp's Fox television for expletives uttered by singer Cher and reality TV star Nicole Richie on awards shows in 2002 and 2003.

The most publicized case in recent years was the so-called "wardrobe malfunction" that allowed part of Jackson's breast to be briefly exposed during a half-time show for the 2004 Super Bowl football championship that drew half a million complaints.

CBS was fined $550,000 but the fine was thrown out by the Supreme Court in a separate judgment in late June 2012.

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Comments (6)
There has got to be a way to clean up what is viewed and said at home…

Apr 03, 2013 5:17am EDT  --  Report as abuse
There has got to be a way to clean up what is viewed and heard at home.

Apr 03, 2013 5:18am EDT  --  Report as abuse
jessicacarter wrote:
I am only one voice. I am on single individual and I wish I could speak for millions when I say that something needs to be done. I am 21 years old and would rather watch cartoons than any other channel because no matter what the show or movie is about it will more than not have sex and profanity in it. A TV show cant be made anymore without a half naked woman anymore. Even restaurant commercials use nudity and indecency to advertise their food. Just because these people do not have respect for their bodies does not mean everyone wants to see it. It used to be frowned upon to see a woman in a bra on tv. Now there is sex in every show. Language is awful. and its terrible what a child will be exposed to just by sitting in front of a television. or listening to a radio. In my opinion all actors should be clothed. PG13 movies these days are like R rated movies in the old days. The world has been conformed to believe it is ok to say and do and watch theses things when it is not. Porn should be illegal. Clothing should be MANDATORY, and language should be modified. It is a shame what people make a show out of and what they Display on them. Its a wonder why crime rates and teen pregnancies are so high… it gets publicized on tv. It gets labeled as “cool” and it is not. Try getting an education. try respecting yourself more. Its a disgrace. Its uncomfortable to go to the movies with your family when all you see is sex and nudity and all you hear is cursing. I am disappointed in the fact there is only one comment on here. And I wish I could write a longer novel but I wont. Please have it cleaned up.

Apr 03, 2013 3:42pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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