FCC Pronounces on Indecencies - Old and New

17 March 2006

The US Federal Communications Commission on Wednesday confirmed its guardianship of America's moral susceptibilities.

In the first of two findings, the body reaffirmed its 2004 judgement that the nation's decency was violated when singer Janet Jackson's mammary gland was revealed during the Super Bowl interval broadcast on CBS in 2004.

The network had asked the FCC to review its decision to fine twenty CBS-owned stations a total of $550,000 (€456,621; £315,000) for this transgression. The FCC did so - but sadly for CBS remained in Miss Prim mode and confirmed its decision to part the broadcaster from more than half-a million bucks.

CBS was again indicted for offences against decency, this time involving a teenage orgy in an episode of its Without a Trace, a 'missing persons' series aired on New Year's Eve 2004.

Despite the network's use of pixilation to obscure the naughtiest zones of female bodies, the FCC ruled it "unmistakable" that partygoers were exposing themselves and "participating in sexual activities." This national outrage has saddled CBS with fines totalling over $3 million.

Commented recently appointed FCC chairman Kevin Martin, the pin-up of US conservative groups: "These decisions ... demonstrate the commission's continued commitment to enforcing the law prohibiting the airing of obscene, indecent and profane material."

Data sourced from AdWeek (USA) and Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff