FCC Fines Fox Broadcasting $1.183 Million

Oct 13, 2004  •  Post A Comment

The Federal Communications Commission late Tuesday announced that it has fined Fox Broadcasting Co. and its affiliates $1.183 million for indecent material aired last year on the reality show “Married by America.”

As reported in the Oct. 11 edition of TVWeek, the decision represents the first time the FCC has fined a TV network and its affiliates for an off-color show. The penalty consists of a $7,000 levy for each of the 169 Fox TV stations that the FCC said carried the April 7, 2003, prime-time broadcast.

The $550,000 fine that the FCC recently levied on Viacom following Janet Jackson’s Super Bowl halftime performance was imposed on CBS’s 20 owned-and-operated stations that ran the broadcast, excluding non-owned affiliates.

The FCC said it received 159 complaints about the episode, which the agency said focused on bachelor and bachelorette parties featuring a broad range of sexual behavior, including suggestive spanking and lap dancing by topless strippers with their breasts partially blurred.

The FCC said Fox’s efforts to edit by obscuring the breasts wasn’t sufficient to keep the program from running afoul of the agency’s indecency prohibitions. “Although the nudity was pixilated, even a child would have known that the strippers were topless and that sexual activity was being shown,” the FCC said.

Fox spokesman Scott Grogin said in response, “We disagree with the FCC’s decision and believe the content was not indecent.”