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Press Release

July 2, 2008

Broadcast Networks Celebrate 30th Anniversary of Pacifica by Trying to get it Reversed


LOS ANGELES (July 2, 2008) – The Parents Television Council™ calls on each broadcast network to end their challenges of the broadcast indecency law, which was established through U.S. Supreme Court ruling under FCC vs. Pacifica.  The 30th anniversary of the Pacifica decision is July 3.


The broadcast networks are celebrating the 30th anniversary of Pacifica by trying to get that landmark Supreme Court affirmation of decency reversed.  They have come up with a plethora of preposterous arguments as to why this law should be null and void.  Let’s be clear: the only thing the networks are arguing for is the so-called ‘right’ to air expletives and show indecent content at any time of the day, even during hours when children are in the viewing audience.  George Carlin’s ‘7 Dirty Words’ have never been prohibited from airing on television – they are simply limited to airing after 10 pm,” said PTC President Tim Winter.


The networks have made several outlandish arguments in their efforts to undermine the broadcast decency law.  Here are a few recent examples:


  • On “NYPD Blue,” Disney-owned ABC showed a fully-naked woman from behind with the camera ogling her up and down with saucy music playing in the background.  ABC denies that a naked woman’s buttocks has either a sexual or excretory function, and says it is “just a muscle.”  CBS offered support, saying that ABC’s FCC fine for this episode should be rejected.

  • CBS still maintains that the infamous Janet Jackson striptease where she bared her naked breast on national television during the 2004 Super Bowl is not indecent.  CBS is fighting in court against the FCC fine it received.

  • Fox claims that its “Married by America” episode which featured repeated scenes of wild sex parties including nudity and graphic sexual activity, such as whipped cream being licked off of nude strippers, is not indecent; and even if it is indecent, Fox claims that video images aren’t contemplated by the statute’s “uttering” phraseology.  Such reasoning patently contradicts the industry’s longstanding foundational principle that images are a form of speech.  Fox filed a motion to dismiss the fine in the U.S. Court of Appeals for DC.

  • All the broadcast networks claim that the unedited live airing of the “F-word” and “S-word” on the “Billboard Music Awards” is not indecent and are fighting for the “right” to air unlimited and unedited profanity during any time of day.  The case will be heard by the Supreme Court later this year.


“It’s clear that the networks will argue anything to try to subjugate the law and ignore the will of the people.  Yet a majority (79%) of the American people – all Americans, whether or not they have children – believes there is too much sex, violence and coarse language on television.*  And an overwhelming number of adults believe that there should be tighter enforcement of decency rules on broadcast television**,” Winter continued.


The law is clear: broadcasters are legally allowed to air indecent material on the public airwaves after 10:00 pm, but they cannot do so before 10:00 pm.  And the public has the right, through the FCC, to complain about the indecent material airing in their communities regardless of how they learn about the broadcast.  We encourage more families to stand up to the broadcast networks when the law is broken.


The broadcast medium remains uniquely pervasive, and if the networks think otherwise, then they should readily relinquish their broadcast licenses.  If broadcasters want to use the public airwaves – public property – to deliver their product to every home in the country for free, then they must abide by the indecency law as prescribed by Congress, affirmed by the Supreme Court and enforced by the FCC.  On this 30th anniversary of the Pacifica ruling, it’s time for the broadcast networks to obey the law instead of undermine it,” Winter said.


To speak with a representative from the Parents Television Council, 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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