ABC, Affiliates Ask FCC to Set Aside ‘NYPD Blue’ Fines

Feb 12, 2008  •  Post A Comment

ABC and the ABC Affiliates Association are urging the Federal Communications Commission to set aside a proposed $1.43 million indecency fine against 52 ABC stations for airing a 2003 episode of “NYPD Blue” in which the buttocks of a police detective girlfriend of Det. Andy Sipowicz was shown.
“Never before has the commission deemed the depiction of naked buttocks ‘patently offensive’ unless they were presented in a highly sexualized or scatological fashion,” ABC said in its filing on behalf of both the network and the two owned-and-operated stations cited, WLS-TV in Chicago and WTRK-TV in Houston.
The FCC proposed the fine Jan. 25, just as the statute of limitations on taking action on the program was about to run out. The episode aired Feb. 25, 2003. The FCC proposed levying the maximum $27,500 fine on each ABC station that aired the program in the Central and Mountain time zones.
The indecency rules don’t apply after 10 p.m. The Central and Mountain time zone stations aired the show at 9 p.m.
ABC is arguing the FCC should reverse course because the portion of the episode cited—scenes when widower Sipowicz’s young son starts to enter the home’s bathroom, sees the backside of the female detective and apologizes—explored the kinds of problems single parents face when they engage in relationships.
“There is nothing sexual or lewd or prurient about the scene,” the network said in its filing. The female detective “does not move or act sexually or provocatively in any respect. There is nothing sexual or lewd in [the son or the female detective’s] reaction to her. To the contrary, the scene simply presents the awkward, modest and entirely chaste reaction [of both] to this unplanned and unanticipated encounter.”
ABC said the program also opened with a clear warning to viewers that the episode contained partial nudity. It charged that the FCC was subjectively setting standards “to reflect the commission’s own aesthetic values and tastes” in a way the First Amendment doesn’t allow.
The Affiliates Association in its filing argued that in the last-minute rush to impose the fine, the FCC shredded the affiliates’ due-process rights to respond. It also said the agency got no complaints about the episode from anyone. It did receive complaints generated by American Family Association groups about a child actor seeing a naked woman, but the affiliates said that’s a labor issue and not within the FCC’s regulatory purview.
“The notice’s ultimate conclusion that the brief depiction of nude buttocks is indecent is really tantamount to a new rule that nudity is indecent per se,” the association said, calling the notice inconsistent with past FCC commission decisions, administrative law and the First Amendment.
The Affiliates Association also contended it wasn’t given adequate notice that action was being considered and thus had inadequate opportunity to respond.



  2. Yeah, I’m sure it was really a “labor issue” which upset the American Family Association. Same smoke and mirrors the network uses to classify ABC Family as a “Family” channel. Guess they call it that considering all the “Family” making they feature on all their shows. Must be that “New Kind of Family” they keep mentioning.
    Bottom line, the ABC affiliates screwed up. Stop whining, pay the fine and move on!

  3. Facts not being checked????? Last time when I worked for WTVG in Toledo (WTVG Inc./ABC), “13abc” in Houston was “KTRK” (same exact logo, crew traveled back and forth between both “13abc’s”). I’m assuming they, like abc local, lost funding for fact checkers? Funny how the worst accurate news sources is similar to this article. Trust me, this is just like WTVG’s (ABC o&o) “MIDWESTERN OASIS” fire reporting… When it was “Mediteranian Oasis” foods factory, that was on fire (5100 block of Lewis Ave, Toledo, Ohio).
    Beyond that, if it were the male form being shown, there would be nothing… AKA Dennis Franz’s rear. That in itself should have been more severe. afterall, how many peeps went blind after seeing a fat man’s rear! Now that’s reason for protest!

  4. It’s great, with 97 percent of cargo containers coming into this country unchecked, any one of which could contain a nuclear “dirty bomb,” and with the annual deficit at $500 billion and counting, that the Bush Administration feels it necessary to waste valuable tax dollars and resources prosecuting the display of human buttocks on television.

  5. Do you know where I can see these buttocks?

  6. Yea on you tube.

  7. I’m about to “give you the business” lol

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  10. Amazing freakin blog here. I almost cried while reading it!

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