NRB Weighs In At FCC On Indecency
June 18, 2013 at 4:16 AM (PT)
The NATIONAL RELIGIOUS BROADCASTERS have filed comments in the FCC's indecency docket asking for the Commission to "improve and tighten its current indecency regulations" but offering its own idea for rule changes. Objecting to the idea that the Commission should now only crack down on the most “egregious” cases of indecency, SVP/General Counsel CRAIG PARSHALL wrote that “a diminishing of the civility and decency of discourse and imagery during children’s viewing hours will diminish families, children, and our culture, and will impair the public interest.”
“We believe," PARSHALL wrote about the NRB's proposal, "that the rules should be enforced against all indecency between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m., not just the most outrageous kind. Our children are worth protecting, and that notion has been made clear by the Supreme Court. At the same time, we are urging the FCC to establish two narrow, very limited exceptions that will help fend off First Amendment challenges: first, a ‘live news’ exception, which would cover a ‘spontaneous utterance’ of profanity as happened when stations covered a pre-game ceremony at FENWAY PARK, and RED SOX player DAVID ORTIZ used a four-letter word when referring to the recent BOSTON MARATHON bombing.”
Former FCC Chairman JULIUS GENACHOWSKI was vocal in saying at the time that ORTIZ' "fleeting expletive" would not be prosecuted as broadcast indecency.
A second exception proposed by the NRB would allow for "fleeting offensiveness" in broadcasts with "serious artistic, literary, social, political, or scientific value for children," only if the broadcaster gives adequate warnings and it can be demonstrated that there is little chance that children might be in the audience. “While our proposal could permit an image of unclothed bodies in a concentration camp as part of a WORLD WAR II documentary intended for older teens and adults, or the strong language used in the 'SAVING PRIVATE RYAN'-type situation,” PARSHALL said, “this exception would not excuse broadcasters airing a live rock music program during the proscribed hours hosted by a celebrity for whom profanity is practically a second language. That latter case shouldn’t pass the ‘serious value’ test.”
NRB Pres./CEO DR. FRANK WRIGHT added, "Families with children need a media safe harbor. From the standpoint of protecting children, there are already many dangers permitted in broadcast programs and ads. It would be egregious for the FCC to lower its standards more.”