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Press Release

July 9, 2007

PTC to CBS: Fess Up, Quit Stalling on Consent Decree Obligations


LOS ANGELES (July 9, 2007) – Today, the Parents Television Council™ called on CBS to respond immediately, not in another month, to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) inquiry regarding its compliance with the November 2004 Consent Decree.


In that Consent Decree, which was agreed to by CBS and the FCC and which summarily dismissed tens of thousands of broadcast indecency complaints in exchange for a stipulated fine, CBS agreed to take specific remedial actions in the event it received a Notice of Apparent Liability (NAL) for any indecent broadcast.  On March 15, 2006, CBS received an NAL for a rebroadcast of a teen orgy scene on its program, Without a Trace.  The FCC sent a letter to CBS on June 27, 2007, seeking answers related to the legal obligations enumerated in the Consent Decree.  CBS requested additional time to respond, citing the July 4th holiday.


“First of all, it is absurd for CBS to get a one-month extension because of a one-day holiday, Independence Day.  How could a one-day holiday necessitate a one-month delay in responding to the FCC’s inquiry?  I doubt that CBS is giving its advertisers an extra month to pay for their commercial time,” said PTC President Tim Winter.


“Second, if CBS had been abiding by the terms of the Consent Decree that it eagerly negotiated almost three years ago, then they would have taken the specified action when they received the NAL.  The wording of the Consent Decree is unequivocal:


If a Viacom-owned station receives a Notice of Apparent Liability for a broadcast occurring after the Effective Date which relates to violation of the Indecency Laws, all employees airing and/or materially participating in the decision to air such material will be suspended and an investigation will immediately be undertaken by Viacom.  Such employees will be required to undergo remedial training with respect to the Indecency Laws and satisfy station management that they understand such laws before resuming their duties.  Upon resumption of duties following remedial training, broadcasts involving such personnel will be subjected to delay and will be monitored by editors for content purposes.


“Either CBS undertook the required actions, or it did not.  If it needs an extra month to answer the question, then I’ll go way out on a limb here and wager that they did not.


“If CBS entered into the Consent Decree in good faith, then why would they rebroadcast an episode of Without a Trace that included a teen orgy when the initial broadcast of that very same episode generated thousands of indecency complaints by the public?  If CBS entered into the Consent Decree in good faith, then why did it not immediately take the remedial actions it agreed to take after receiving the NAL?  If CBS entered into the Consent Decree in good faith, then why would they need more time to prove they did what they were supposed to do 16 months ago?  Other than trying to concoct a plausible PR-spin to this issue, why would they need six weeks to document compliance?


“Either CBS did not enter into the Consent Decree in good faith or they subsequently decided not to abide by it in good faith.  Because of this blatant breach by CBS, we believe the FCC should reopen and reexamine each and every complaint which was addressed in the November 2004 Consent Decree.  And subsequent to the adjudication of each and every complaint, each and every radio and television broadcast license held by CBS should be reconsidered.”


To schedule an interview with a PTC representative, please contact Kelly Oliver (ext. 140) or Megan Franko (ext. 148) at (703) 683-5004.

The Parents Television Council™ (www.parentstv.org®) is a non-partisan education organization advocating responsible entertainment. It was founded in 1995 to ensure that children are not constantly assaulted by sex, violence and profanity on television and in other media. This national grassroots organization has more than 1.3 million members across the United States, and works with television producers, broadcasters, networks and sponsors in an effort to stem the flow of harmful and negative messages targeted to children. The PTC also works with elected and appointed government officials to enforce broadcast decency standards. Most importantly, the PTC produces critical research and publications documenting the dramatic increase in sex, violence and profanity in entertainment. This information is provided free of charge so parents can make informed viewing choices for their own families.




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