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Press Release

January 13, 2010

PTC Says Court Must Put Public Interest First in “Fleeting Expletives” Decision


LOS ANGELES (January 13, 2010) – The Parents Television Council® issued a statement in advance of the oral arguments in the FCC v. Fox case that will be heard today by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York. 


In an April 2009 ruling in the FCC v. Fox case, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the FCC’s authority to apply the broadcast decency law to so-called “fleeting” expletives on the public airwaves.  The Second Circuit Court hearing today will reconsider the case in light of the SCOTUS opinion.


“The broadcast decency law is clear: broadcasters must refrain from violating community standards of decency during hours when children are likely to be in the audience.  The indecency law doesn’t prohibit broadcasters from airing indecent material; it only requires that indecent material air outside the hours when children are likely to be in the audience,” said PTC President Tim Winter.


“The networks could abide by the law if they wanted to, but they choose not to.  If Fox and other networks really cared about the families on the other end of their broadcast signal as they claim, then they can and should adopt a zero-tolerance policy towards indecent material before 10:00 pm, just as they promised they would during a Congressional hearing after the Janet Jackson incident.


“Yet the broadcasters continue to flout the law and give families reason to be skeptical.  Just this week, NBC’s ‘Chuck’ aired a song with lyrics that include repeated use of the ‘s-word’ without bleeping the indecent language.  And last week Fox featured a story line on Seth MacFarlane’s cartoon ‘American Dad’ with a man masturbating a horse.  In spite of tens of thousands of complaints from the public about other MacFarlane-produced programming, it was recently reported that Fox is considering yet another MacFarlane show.  Such behavior isn’t just a simple disregard for the broadcast decency law; it shows downright contempt.


“The Second Circuit Court must consider the impact to children and families as it considers this case once again.  With so many distribution outlets freely available for indecent material, Hollywood’s assertion of any ‘chilling effect’ is patently absurd.  The public airwaves remain the last bastion of safety for families, and in accordance with the broadcast decency law and in accordance with the terms of a broadcaster’s license, those airwaves must remain free of indecent material when children are in the audience,” Winter concluded.


The FCC ruled that Fox violated the broadcast decency law when it aired the “f-word” and “s-word” during live broadcasts of the 2002 and 2003 Billboard Music Awards shows.  The PTC and its members filed FCC indecency complaints over these two incidents and also submitted an Amicus brief in support of the FCC.


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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