Click here for Adobe Acrobat version
Click here for Microsoft Word version


This document was converted from Microsoft Word.

Content from the original version of the document such as
headers, footers, footnotes, endnotes, graphics, and page numbers
will not show up in this text version.

All text attributes such as bold, italic, underlining, etc. from the
original document will not show up in this text version.

Features of the original document layout such as
columns, tables, line and letter spacing, pagination, and margins
will not be preserved in the text version.

If you need the complete document, download the
Microsoft Word or Adobe Acrobat version.


                                  STATEMENT OF


   Re: Re: Complaints Against Various Television Licensees Concerning Their
   February 1, 2004, Broadcast of the Super Bowl XXXVIII Halftime Show,
   Forfeiture Order; Complaints Against Various Television Licensees
   Concerning Their December 31, 2004 Broadcast of the Program "Without A
   Trace," Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture; Complaints Regarding
   Various Television Broadcasts Between February 2, 2002 and March 8, 2005,
   Notices of Apparent Liability and Memorandum Opinion and Order

   Today marks my first opportunity as a member of the Federal Communications
   Commission to uphold our responsibility to enforce the federal statute
   prohibiting the airing of obscene, indecent or profane language. To be
   clear - I take this responsibility very seriously. Not only is this the
   law, but it also is the right thing to do.

   One of the bedrock principles of the Communications Act of 1934, as
   amended, is that the airwaves belong to the public. Much like public
   spaces and national landmarks, these are scarce and finite resources that
   must be preserved for the benefit of all Americans. If numbers are any
   indication, many Americans are not happy about the way that their airwaves
   are being utilized. The number of complaints filed with the FCC reached
   over one million in 2004. Indeed, since taking office in January 2006, I
   have received hundreds of personal e-mails from people all over this
   country who are unhappy with the content to which they - and, in
   particular, their families - are subjected.

   I have applauded those cable and DBS providers for the tools they have
   provided to help parents and other concerned citizens filter out
   objectionable content. Parental controls incorporated into cable and DBS
   set-top boxes, along with the V-Chip, make it possible to block
   programming based upon its content rating. However, these tools, even when
   used properly, are not a complete solution. One of the main reasons for
   that is because much of the content broadcast, including live sporting
   events and commercials, are not rated under the two systems currently in

   I also believe that consumers have an important role to play as well.
   Caregivers - parents, in particular - need to take an active role in
   monitoring the content to which children are exposed. Even the most
   diligent parent, however, cannot be expected to protect their children
   from indecent material broadcast during live sporting events or in
   commercials that appear during what is marketed to be "appropriate"

   Today, we are making significant strides toward addressing the backlog of
   indecency complaints before this agency. The rules are simple - you break
   them and we will enforce the law, just as we are doing today. Both the
   public and the broadcasters deserve prompt and timely resolution of
   complaints as they are filed, and I am glad to see us act to resolve these
   complaints. At the same time, however, I would like to raise a few
   concerns regarding the complaints we address in these decisions.

   First, I would like to discuss the complaint regarding the 6:30 p.m.
   Eastern Daylight Time airing of an episode of The Simpsons. The Order
   concludes that this segment is not indecent, in part because of the fact
   that The Simpsons is a cartoon. Generally speaking, cartoons appeal to
   children, though some may cater to both children and adults
   simultaneously. Nevertheless, the fact remains that children were
   extremely likely to have been in the viewing audience when this scene was
   broadcast. Indeed, the marketing is aimed at children. If the scene had
   involved real actors in living color, at 5:30 p.m. Central Standard Time,
   I wonder if our decision would have been different? One might argue that
   the cartoon medium may be a more insidious means of exposing young people
   to such content. By their very nature, cartoons do not accurately portray
   reality, and in this instance the use of animation may well serve to
   present that material in a more flattering light than it would if it were
   depicted through live video. I stop short of disagreeing with our decision
   in this case, but note that the animated nature of the broadcast, in my
   opinion, may be cause for taking an even closer look in the context of our
   indecency analysis.

   Second, our conclusion regarding the 9:00 p.m. Central Standard Time
   airing of an episode of Medium in which a woman is shot at point-blank
   range in the face by her husband gives me pause. While I agree with the
   result in this case, I question our conclusion that the sequence
   constitutes violence per se and therefore falls outside the scope of the
   Commission's definition of indecency. Without question, this scene is
   violent, graphically so. Moreover, it is presented in a way that appears
   clearly designed to maximize its shock value. And therein lies my concern.
   One of the primary ways that this scene shocks is that it leads the viewer
   to believe that the action is headed in one direction - through dialogue
   and actions which suggest that interaction of a sexual nature is about to
   occur - and then abruptly erupts in another - the brutally violent
   shooting of a wife by her husband, in the head, at point-blank range. Even
   though the Commission's authority under Section 1464 is limited to
   indecent, obscene, and profane content, and thus does not extend to
   violent matter, the use of violence as the "punch line" of titillating
   sexual innuendo should not insulate broadcast licensees from our
   authority. To the contrary, the use of sexual innuendo may, depending on
   the specific case, subject a licensee to potential forfeiture, regardless
   of the overall violent nature of the sequence in which such sexual
   innuendo is used.

                                     * * *

   Finally, I would like to express my hope and belief that the problem of
   indecent material is one that can be solved. Programmers, artists,
   writers, broadcasters, networks, advertisers, parents, public interest
   groups, and, yes, even Commissioners can protect two of our country's most
   valuable resources: the public airwaves and our children's minds. We must
   take a stand against programming that robs our children of their innocence
   and constitutes an unwarranted intrusion into our homes. By working
   together, we should promote the creation of programming that is not just
   entertaining, but also positive, educational, healthful, and, perhaps,
   even inspiring.

   See 18 U.S.C. S 1464.


   Federal Communications Commission FCC 06-18