Claim: The FCC is considering modifying its indecency policies regarding the use of profanity and non-sexual nudity on radio and television.
Example: [Collected via e-mail, April 2013]
They are seeking public comments; make your voice count!
April 8, 2013
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced it is considering dropping current broadcast decency standards that ban explicit profanity and "non-sexual" nudity.
Specifically, if enacted, the new FCC policy would allow network television and local radio stations to air the
It is accepting comments on the proposal from the viewing public until the end of April.
Current broadcast decency law prohibits expletives and nudity, even if brief or "fleeting." The Supreme Court has upheld the law as constitutionally enforceable by the FCC, despite lawsuit attempts by networks NBC and FOX to overturn it.
Origins: The case of FCC v. Fox Television Stations originated with two incidents involving Billboard Music Awards shows aired by the Fox television network in 2002 and 2003, during which two presenters "dropped the
Since the decision in FCC v. Fox Television Stations, the FCC has begun a review of whether it should make changes to its current broadcast indecency policies. Approaches under consideration include whether the FCC should maintain a standard holding that "deliberate and repetitive use [of expletives] in a patently offensive manner is a requisite to a finding of indecency" or should continue a ban on the use of "any indecent language" (including expletives referring to "sexual or excretory activity or organs") even when the offensive words are not repeated. Another issue on the table is whether the FCC should treat isolated non-sexual nudity on television (such as the infamous Janet Jackson "wardrobe malfunction" incident during the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show) the same or differently than isolated expletives.
The FCC is now seeking public comment on whether its current approach should be amended:
"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
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.
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 their 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 deadline for comments on the proposed changes was originally set at
Last updated: 15 July 2013
Baker, Chris. "FCC Relaxes TV Rules on Use of F-Word." The Washington Times. 10 October 2003. Pelofsky, Jeremy. "Bid to Stop F-word on U.S. Airwaves." Reuters. 13 January 2004. Associated Press. "FCC OKs Bono's F-Word Slip." CBSNews.com 7 October 2003. Reuters. "FCC Seeks Public Comment in Review of TV, Radio Decency Policy." 1 April 2013.