FCC Backing Down on Most of Its Indecency Complaints

Sep 28, 2012  •  Post A Comment

The Federal Communications Commission is rethinking its enforcement of complaints about broadcast indecency and is scaling way back on the number of complaints it will pursue, TheWrap.com reports.

“Chairman Julius Genachowski has ordered agency staffers to refocus enforcement efforts to target only the most explicit of the more than 1.5 million pending complaints,” the story reports, citing a spokesman for the FCC.

“The decision was in response to the Department of Justice’s dropping Friday of a lawsuit complaining of indecency in a 2003 Fox broadcast of its reality show “Married by America,” which included scenes featuring suggested — but pixilated — nudity,” the report adds.

In a statement to TheWrap, Genachowski is quoted as saying: “In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in Fox v. FCC, the commission is reviewing its indecency enforcement policy to ensure the agency carries out Congress’s directive in a manner consistent with vital First Amendment principles.”

Genachowski added that he has directed the commission to “focus its resources on the strongest cases that involve egregious indecency violations. We also will continue to reduce the backlog of pending indecency complaints.”

The shift in focus follows landmark decisions over the summer by the Supreme Court, which has been tossing out penalties in indecency cases, as we reported previously.

TheWrap adds: “In one of the cases, the high court refused to review a lower-court decision that threw out the FCC’s $550,000 fine for CBS over Janet Jackson’s ‘wardrobe malfunction’ during the network’s live coverage of the 2004 Super Bowl.

“In a separate case, the Supreme Court on June 21 ruled that FCC indecency sanctions against Fox and ABC were improper, on grounds that the networks had not received fair notice that fleeting indecencies could be subject to sanctions.”

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