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                           Before the
                Federal Communications Commission
                     Washington, D.C. 20554

In the Matter of                 )
NBC TELEMUNDO LICENSE CO.        )    File Nos. EB-03-IH-0539
                                )                       EB-03-IH-
Licensee of Station WRC-TV       )    0562
Washington, D.C.                                                                                  )                       EB-03-IH- 
                                     Facility ID No. 47904


Adopted:  October 1, 2004            Released:  November 23, 2004

By the Commission:


     1.   In this Memorandum Opinion and Order, we deny four 
individual complaints (the ``Complaints'') from the Parents 
Television Council (``PTC'') and 44 related complaints 1 alleging 
that NBC Telemundo License Co., licensee of Station WRC-TV, 
Washington, D.C., and various other affiliates of the NBC 
Television Network (``NBC'') aired episodes of the NBC program 
``Coupling'' on September 25 and October 2, 9 and 23, 2003, in 
violation of federal restrictions regarding the broadcast of 
indecent material.2


     2.   The Complaints allege that, at 9:00 p.m. Eastern 
Standard Time, on September 25, and October 2, 9 and 23, 2003, 
Station WRC-TV broadcast episodes of the ``Coupling'' program 
that contained allegedly indecent material.3  According to the 
Complaints, which are attached hereto, the episodes at issue 
``contained . . . indecent material'' and were also ``seen in 
homes across the country.''4  


     3.The Federal Communications Commission is authorized to 
license radio and television broadcast stations and is 
responsible for enforcing the Commission's rules and applicable 
statutory provisions concerning the operation of those stations.  
The Commission's role in overseeing program content is very 
limited.  The First Amendment to the United States Constitution 
and section 326 of the Communications Act of 1934, as 
amended,(the ``Act'') prohibit the Commission from censoring 
program material and from interfering with broadcasters' freedom 
of expression.5  The Commission does, however, have the authority 
to enforce statutory and regulatory provisions restricting 
indecency and obscenity.  Specifically, it is a violation of 
federal law to broadcast obscene or indecent programming.  Title 
18 of the United States Code, Section 1464 prohibits the 
utterance of ``any obscene, indecent or profane language by means 
of radio communication.''6  In addition, section 73.3999 of the 
Commission's rules provides that radio and television stations 
shall not broadcast obscene material at any time, and, consistent 
with a subsequent statute and court case,7 shall not broadcast 
indecent material during the period 6 a.m. through 10 p.m.8 

     A.Indecency Analysis

     4.Any consideration of government action against allegedly 
indecent programming must take into account the fact that such 
speech is protected under the First Amendment.9  The federal 
courts consistently have upheld Congress's authority to regulate 
the broadcast of indecent material, as well the Commission's 
interpretation and implementation of the governing statute.10  
Nevertheless, the First Amendment is a critical constitutional 
limitation that demands that, in indecency determinations, we 
proceed cautiously and with appropriate restraint.11  

     5.The Commission defines indecent speech as language that, 
in context, depicts or describes sexual or excretory activities 
or organs in terms patently offensive as measured by contemporary 
community standards for the broadcast medium.12  

           Indecency findings  involve  at  least  two 
           fundamental  determinations.   First,   the 
           material alleged to  be indecent must  fall 
           within the  subject  matter  scope  of  our 
           indecency definition¾that is, the  material 
           must describe or depict sexual or excretory 
           organs or  activities. .  . .  Second,  the 
           broadcast must  be  patently  offensive  as 
           measured    by    contemporary    community 
           standards for the broadcast medium.13

The complained-of material aired during the episodes of the 
``Coupling'' program depicts or describes sexual activities and 
organs, and therefore, warrants further scrutiny to determine 
whether it is patently offensive as measured by contemporary 
community standards.  For the reasons set forth below, however, 
we conclude that the material is not patently offensive, and 
therefore, not indecent.

     6.In our assessment of whether broadcast material is 
patently offensive, ``the full context in which the material 
appeared is critically important.''14  Three principal factors 
are significant to this contextual analysis: (1) the explicitness 
or graphic nature of the description; (2) whether the material 
dwells on or repeats at length descriptions of sexual or 
excretory organs or activities; and (3) whether the material 
appears to pander or is used to titillate or shock.15  In 
examining these three factors, we must weigh and balance them to 
determine whether the broadcast material is patently offensive 
because ``[e]ach indecency case presents its own particular mix 
of these, and possibly, other factors.''16  In particular cases, 
the weight of one or two of the factors may outweigh the others, 
either rendering the broadcast material patently offensive and 
consequently indecent,17 or, alternatively, removing the 
broadcast material from the realm of indecency.18 

     7.   After reviewing the transcripts and videotapes of the 
episodes provided by PTC, we conclude that the complained-of 
material is not sufficiently explicit or graphic to be indecent.  
The episodes in question deal with the interconnected 
relationships of the six regular characters in the series, three 
men and three women.19  The complained-of material is primarily 
the dialogue between the characters, which involves conversations 
exploring their relationships.  The material presents a close 
case.  The dialogue includes sustained and repeated use of sexual 
innuendo and double entendre, with sex the constant theme of the 
program episodes.  The cumulative effect of such repeated 
references appear to render the material shocking, titillating, 
or pandering to the viewing audience.  We conclude that our 
findings with respect to these two factors are outweighed in this 
instance by the first component of our analysis, lack of explicit 
or graphic depiction or description.  The episodes in question do 
not explicitly depict sexual activities or organs (other than 
kissing).  Rather, the characters' conversations together with 
the set-up of the scenes make clear that sexual activity has 
occurred.  Further, despite repeated references to sexual 
activities and organs, which we find troubling, none of the 
episodes contains graphic descriptions of sexual activities and 
organs or uses language that is so graphic as to qualify as 
indecent or profane.  Consequently, we conclude that the 
material, in context, is not patently offensive as measured by 
contemporary community standards for the broadcast medium and, 
therefore, not indecent.20


     8.ACCORDINGLY, IT IS ORDERED, that the complaints alleging 
that Station WRC-TV and other licensees airing NBC programming 
violated the indecency prohibition by broadcasting the September 
25 and October 2, 9 and 23, 2003, episodes of the ``Coupling'' 

     9. IT  IS FURTHER  ORDERED, that copies  of this  Memorandum 
Opinion and  Order  shall be  sent  by Certified  Mail  Return  - 
Receipt Requested  to Parents  Television Council,  707  Wilshire 
Boulevard, Suite 2075, Los Angeles, California 90017, and to  NBC 
Telemundo  License  Co.,   licensee  of   Station  WRC-TV,   1299 
Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20004.


                         Marlene H. Dortch

1 To date, the Commission has received a total of 48 complaints 
concerning the September 25 and October 2, 9 and October 23, 
2003, episodes of the program broadcast by the NBC affiliates.
2 See 18 U.S.C. § 1464 and 47 C.F.R. § 73.3999.
3 See Letters from Parents Television Council (``PTC'') to 
Federal Communications Commission, dated November 24, 2003, and 
October 29, 2003.  The Complaints state that the `` Coupling'' 
episodes at issue were broadcast over Station WRC-TV and  
stations of other NBC affiliates across the country.
4 See id; Attachments A-D (emphasis in original).
5 U.S. CONST., amend. I; 47 U.S.C. § 326 (2002).
6 18 U.S.C. § 1464. 
7 Public Telecommunications Act of 1992, Pub. L. No. 102-356, 106 
Stat. 949 (1992) (setting the current safe harbor of 10 p.m. to 6 
a.m. for the broadcast of indecent material); see also Action for 
Children's Television v. FCC, 58 F. 3d 654 (D.C. Cir. 1995) (en 
banc) (``ACT III''), cert. denied, 516 U.S. 1072 (1996) 
(affirming restrictions prohibiting the broadcast of indecent 
material between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.). 
8 See 47 C.F.R. § 73.3999.  We note that to the extent 
complainants in the Eastern and Pacific time zones objected to 
broadcasts of the ``Coupling'' episodes after 10:00 p.m. in those 
areas, those broadcasts were outside the time period covered by 
our indecency rules.  See supra n. 9 and accompanying text.
9 U.S. CONST., amend. I; see Action for Children's Television v. 
FCC, 852 F.2d 1332, 1344 (D.C. Cir. 1988) (``ACT I'').
10 18 U.S.C. 1464; FCC v. Pacifica Foundation, 438 U.S. 726 
(1978).  See also ACT I, 852 F.2d at 1339; Action for Children's 
Television v. FCC, 932 F.2d 1504, 1508 (D.C. Cir. 1991), cert. 
denied, 503 U.S. 914 (1992) (``ACT II''); ACT III, 58 F. 3d 654. 
11 ACT I, 852 F.2d at 1344, 1340 n.14  (``Broadcast material that 
is indecent but not obscene is protected by the First Amendment; 
the FCC may regulate such material only with due respect for the 
high value our Constitution places on freedom and choice in what 
people may say and hear.''); see id. at 1340 n.14 (``...the 
potential chilling effect of the FCC's generic definition of 
indecency will be tempered by the Commission's restrained 
enforcement policy.'').   
12 Infinity Broadcasting Corporation of Pennsylvania, 2 FCC Rcd 
2705 (1987)(subsequent history omitted) (citing Pacifica 
Foundation, 56 FCC 2d 94, 98 (1975), aff'd sub nom. FCC v. 
Pacifica Foundation, 438 U.S. 726 (1978)).  
13 Industry Guidance on the Commission's Case Law Interpreting 18 
U.S.C. §1464 and Enforcement Policies Regarding Broadcast 
Indecency (``Indecency Policy Statement''), 16 FCC Rcd 7999, 
8002, ¶¶ 7-8 (2001) (emphasis in original).
14 Id., at 8002, ¶ 9 (emphasis in original).  
15 Id., at 8002-15, ¶¶ 8-23.  
16 Id., at 8003, ¶ 10.
17 Id., at 8009, ¶ 19 (citing Tempe Radio, Inc (KUPD-FM), 12 FCC 
Rcd 21828 (MMB 1997) (forfeiture paid) (extremely graphic or 
explicit nature of references to sex with children outweighed the 
fleeting nature of the references); EZ New Orleans, Inc. 
(WEZB(FM)), 12 FCC Rcd 4147 (MMB 1997) (forfeiture paid) (same)). 
18 Id., at 8010, ¶ 20 (``the manner and purpose of a presentation 
may well preclude an indecency determination even though other 
factors, such as explicitness, might weigh in favor of an 
indecency finding'').
19 See Complaints.
20  The  ``contemporary  standards  for  the  broadcast  medium'' 
criterion is  that of  the average  broadcast listener  and  with 
respect  to  Commission   decisions,  does   not  encompass   any 
particular geographic area.  See id., 16 FCC Rcd at 8002, ¶ 8.