Revisiting Indecency

After a quiet year on the indecency front, the FCC recently revisited two indecency complaints from programs that aired in 2003 and issued forfeiture orders.

In 2004, the Commission filed its Notice of Apparent Liability In re: Complaints Against Various Licensees Regarding Their Broadcast Of The Fox Television Network Program “Married By America” On April 7, 2003 (FCC 04-242, October 2004). But the NYPD Blue NAL and forfeiture orders were both released in the last month, Notice of Apparent Liability In re: Complaints Against Various Television Licensees Concerning Their February 25, 2003 Broadcast of the Program “NYPD Blue” (FCC 08-25, January 25, 2008). In order to get this forfeiture order in before the statute of limitations applied, ABC and the ABC affiliates were given only 17, rather than the usual 30, days to respond.
The NYPD Blue forfeiture ruling finds the Commission not only attempting to find the bounds of indecent depictions of “sexual organs and excretory organs –specifically an adult woman’s buttocks,” but once again defending its indecency regulations against contentions that the indecency regulations are inconsistent with the First Amendment.