‘Blue’ Fines Draw Praise, Criticism

Jan 28, 2008  •  Post A Comment

Reaction is starting to come in to the FCC’s attempt to fine 52 ABC stations $1.4 million for airing a 2003 episode of “NYPD Blue” that featured shots of a woman’s bare buttocks.
Some critics who have suggested network programming has become too suggestive said they hope the fine could send a message to stations and networks. The American Civil Liberties Union, on the other hand, is criticizing the fine, calling it “another egregious example” of the government “trying to decide what grown adults can and cannot watch.”
“This is just another government attempt to trump our own good judgment and determine what we’re mature enough to see,” said James Taylor, ACLU policy counsel.
He noted that both the series and the episode in question aired with warnings.
“‘NYPD Blue’ aired well past the bedtime of most children—at 10 p.m. in most markets. Only those affiliates that aired the program between the hours of 6 and 10 p.m. would be subject to the fine, which just goes to show the fickle nature of the FCC’s rules,” Mr. Taylor said. “By their logic, airing a shot of a bare behind at 10:30 p.m. is fine, but the same shot at 9:30 p.m. is worth millions in fines and penalties.”
The Parents Television Council, meanwhile, praised the FCC.
“We are thankful that the FCC has finally taken a stand for children and families with this unanimous order,” said PTC President Tim Winter. “The delay in getting here has been frustrating, but we are delighted by the decision. PTC members and concerned citizens across the country spoke out against the nudity in the 2003 episode of ‘NYPD Blue,’ and today their pleas have been answered.”
Praise also came from the American Family Association.
“When ABC affiliate stations agreed to broadcast nudity during the Feb. 25, 2003, episode of ‘NYPD Blue,’ they violated a sacred trust to serve the public interest,” said AFA Chairman Donald E. Wildmon. “Viewers, especially parents, have held accountable the local station for what it broadcasts over the publicly owned airwaves.”
ABC has indicated it intends to challenge the fines.


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