FCC Preps Second 'Indecency Fine Overdue' Notice
February 21, 2008 at 10:08 AM (PT)
The FCC has apparently decided to double-down on its indecency crusade, as CNN MONEY reports that it's set to demand that NEWS CORP. pay a $1.2 million indecency fine against the 2003 short-lived reality show "MARRIED BY AMERICA." The statute of limitations for the fine is five years; hence's the Commission's recent actions against NEWS CORP and, as reported earlier (NET NEWS, 2/20), ABC for nudity on "NYPD BLUE."
In this case, the FCC ruled that the nudity in FOX-TV's reality show was indecent even though the offending body parts were pixilated. Once the notice of forfeiture is officially issued, NEWS CORP. can do one of three things. It could simply pay the fine, but sources don't expect that to happen, since the networks have seemed to grow a backbone on taking a stand over this issue.
Pay, But Appeal
Secondly, it could pay the fine, then appeal the FCC decision in court. CBS is doing that right now over JANET JACKSON's wardrobe malfunction during the SUPER BOWL halftime show. The problem with that choice is that the ball is in the network's court to prove the incident was not obscene.
On the other hand, NEWS CORP. successfully appealed the FCC's "fleeting expletives" indecency ruling in the courts, forcing the COMMISSION to take the matter to THE SUPREME COURT. The network did this basically on principle, since the FCC didn't issue a fine.
Let The FCC Prove It
The third option would be to ignore the forfeiture notice, which would force the FCC to go to the DEPT. OF JUSTICE and convince it to file a motion in federal court to collect the money. Unlike CBS, which has to prove its telecast was not indecent, this way it's incumbent on the FCC to prove the indecency in court, which may be difficult, since pixilated body parts has been broadcast on television without incident many times without incident.
Even so, the third option has been used only once. CNN MONEY reports that EVERGREEN MEDIA refused to pay a $6,000 indecency fine over a 1991 incident regarding two of its air personalities. As fate would have it, the matter was never resolved in court; EVERYGREEN and the FCC settled the case on their own.
Read the entire story here.