Television broadcast, radio broadcast
President Bush has signed legislation that will cost US broadcasters dearly when raunchy programming exceeds “the bounds of decency. The Federal Communications Commission can now fine a broadcaster up to $325,000 per incident of indecency. Approval of the bill culminates a two-year effort to get tough on sexually explicit material and offensive language on radio and television following Janet Jackson’s 2004 Super Bowl “wardrobe malfunction.” The FCC recently denied a petition of reconsideration from CBS owned stations facing $550,000 in fines over the Jackson incident, in which she briefly revealed a breast during a halftime concert. The agency recently handed down its biggest fine, $3.3 million, against more than 100 CBS affiliates that aired an episode of the series “Without a Trace” that simulated an orgy scene. That fine is now under review. The FCC has received increasing complaints about lewd material over the airwaves, and has responded with fines jumping from $440,000 in 2003 to almost $8 million in 2004. In an age of emailing just a few organized protestors can generate huge numbers of ‘complaints’. In the UK the BBC screening of Jerry Springer – The Opera sparked off a massive email protest to the BBC although possibly from just a very few actual protestors. 50,000 protests were received by the BBC and 7,000 by regulator Ofcom before the programme was screened in a concerted effort by pressure group Christian Voice. In the US the industry sponsored TV Watch said of the new bill “The [ US] government’s own data show that the vast majority of complaints come from a handful of people encouraged by activists to complain about these shows, and not the viewers themselves. The new bill does not apply to cable or satellite broadcasts and does not try to define what is indecent. The FCC says indecent material is that which contains sexual or excretory material that does not rise to the level of obscenity. Under FCC rules and federal law, radio and over-the-air television stations may not air obscene material at any time, and may not air indecent material between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. when children are more likely to be in the audience.