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FCC Cites ABC Stations Over 2003 ‘NYPD Blue’ Episode

Jan 25, 2008  •  Post A Comment

The Federal Communications Commission has cited 52 ABC affiliates $27,500 each for violating FCC indecency rules by running the Feb. 25, 2003, episode of “NYPD Blue” that prominently featured an actress’s nude buttocks.
The total proposed fine of $1.43 million is the biggest the FCC has imposed on stations since the Janet Jackson Super Bowl half-time incident in 2004. That fine is being challenged by CBS in federal appeals court.
ABC can contest this fine as well.
The FCC cited only ABC stations in the Central and Mountain time zone where the program aired before 10 p.m. FCC indecency rules don’t apply to programs airing after 10 p.m. “NYPD Blue” aimed at 10 p.m. in the Eastern and Pacific time zones.
The FCC cited a series of pictures during the program’s opening scenes involving the live-in lover of Detective Andy Sipowicz, the character played by Dennis Franz. The lover, another detective played by Charlotte Ross, drops her robe in the bathroom, revealing some parts of her breasts and her backside. Sipowicz’s young son enters the bathroom and stares at her; she turns toward the camera and covers herself with her hands.
The scene prompted complaints from some groups, among them the American Family Association, and it generated thousands of FCC complaints, though ABC said it got very few.
In its ruling today, the FCC specifically pointed to the woman’s nude buttocks and the way her body was displayed as the reason for the fine.
“The scene contains explicit and graphic depictions of sexual organs. The scene depicts multiple, close-range views of an adult woman’s naked buttocks. We find that the broadcast dwells on and repeats the sexual material. We have held that repetition and persistent focus on sexual or excretory material is a relevant factor in evaluating the potential offensiveness of broadcasts. Here, the scene revolves around the woman’s nudity and includes several shots of her naked buttocks. The material is thus dwelled upon and repeated.”
The FCC rejected ABC’s contention that the scene was “not presented in a lewd, prurient, pandering or titillating way” but was intended “to illustrate the complexity and awkwardness involved when a single parent brings a new romantic partner into her or his life.”
ABC said tonight it would oppose the fine.
“‘NYPD Blue,’ which aired on ABC from 1993 to 2005, was an Emmy Award-winning drama, broadcast with appropriate parental warnings as well as V-chip enabled program ratings from the time such ratings were implemented,” the network said in a statement.
“When the brief scene in question was telecast almost five years ago, this critically acclaimed drama had been on the air for a decade and the realistic nature of its storylines was well known to the viewing public. ABC feels strongly that the FCC’s finding is inconsistent with prior precedent from the commission, the indecency statute, and the First Amendment, and we intend to oppose the proposed fine.”
Monday 11:30: Corrected number of stations and total fine; updated 1st and 2nd paragraphs

7 Comments

  1. ABC has only 10 owned-and-operated stations, and the only ones affected would be in Chicago and Houston, since they are in the Central time zone. You’d better go back and recalculate that number.

  2. Really, they finally saw the episode? I just saw this episode on TV recently on some cable network. Doesn’t the FCC have better things to do that look at shows from 5 years ago?

  3. The actual fine is $1.4 million, and it includes all stations in the Central and Mountain time zones.

  4. Jeez, America, grow up and get a freakin’ life! This is absurd . . .

  5. I think they should show everything. It’s freedom of speech. Were gonna get it on the internet anyway even if we don’t try.

  6. This is why America is a total piece of garbage! Broadcast horrible violence all day long in graphic detail, but what ever you do, don’t display the naked human body! How disturbing is that?
    We all have bodies. Our body is a beautiful creation. To be offended by the naked human body means that you are offended by God’s greatest creation.
    To act-out violence so carelessly in which the human body is damaged, shot, cut, raped, and where life is snuffed out in almost episode of every drama on tv, is the sign of a very sick culture.
    How many movies do teens end up watching that contain horrible violence? Decapitations, rapes, limbs being cut off, etc. But by all that’s Holy don’t ever think of showing a persons bare backside or God save us…… a penis!!!
    This is why America has no right forcing its “morals” onto any other country in the world. We are a pathetic excuse for a culture that is twisted beyond repair!

  7. The US is not twisted beyond control, their just overly precautious. How can they help it when it seems that the FCC is just looking for an excuse to sue. Now, I agree, the naked human body is less disturbing than most things seen on TV, but the US is culturally deficient in its sexuality. It’s like, you can’t… be open sexually I suppose that has to do with the fact that every time a show tries to expand sexuality for art rather than porn they get sued. I think that the FCC should lighten up and stop restricting things like this, I mean, what else are TV ratings for. If a show is rated maturely, then the content should be provocative or else, it really doing its job. Also, ABC shouldn’t pay a cent to FCC since they didn’t do anything wrong.

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