Fox TV To FCC On Indecency Fine: Make Us Pay
March 25, 2008 at 10:30 AM (PT)
In what THE WASHINGTON POST described as an "unusually aggressive step," FOX BROADCASTING has announced that it's not going to pay $91,000 in indecency fines over the 2003 broadcast of the reality show "Married In America."
In 2004, the FCC fined FOX and all 169 affiliates $1.2 million for airing scenes of pixilated nudity and someone licking whipped cream off a woman's body. Earlier this year, the FCC changed its mind and reduced the fine to only the 13 owned-and-operated FOX stations that aired the program, ostensibly because that's where the viewer complaints came from.
Impact On Radio
The implications for radio here is twofold: First, it can use any network victory as precedence in its current indecency battles. Secondly, should the FOX refusal to pay entice the FCC into making further concessions, or tax its efforts beyond its ability to extract payment (as noted in NET NEWS, 3/24), it will give radio stations a new, effective strategy to combat future indecency rulings.
In the past, broadcasters slapped with an indecency fine usually negotiated some sort of cash settlement that cleared the decks of all outstanding indecency issues. Recently, ABC paid the fine but is still appealing the ruling, hoping to receive a refund if it wins in court. FOX's decision takes the challenge one step further: appealing but refusing to pay. What happens next? Some sources indicate that the ball would be in the FCC's court, as it would have to get the Justice Dept. to take the stations to court to get the money. Others believe it's still up to FOX to win in court.
"FOX believes that the FCC’s decision in this case was arbitrary and capricious, inconsistent with precedent and patently unconstitutional," FOX SVP/Corporate Communications SCOTT GROGIN said in a statement.
FCC spokeswoman MARY DIAMOND responded to FOX’s refusal to pay by only saying, "We believe in enforcing indecency standards especially when children are watching."
Read more about it here.