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                           STATEMENT OF

     Re:  Complaints Against Various Broadcast 
     Licensees Regarding Their Airing of the ``Golden 
     Globe Awards'' Program; Memorandum Opinion and 

     The Commission today takes a major step in safeguarding 
the well-being of our nation's children.  By reversing the 
Bureau order, we deliver a loud and clear decree that 
gratuitous broadcasts of the F-word will not be tolerated on 
our airwaves.  Many studies show that the use of the F-word 
and other vulgarities is becoming more prevalent in our 
society, and in our media.  Broadcasters have a 
responsibility to serve the public interest, and fail to 
meet it if they contribute to this trend.  

     By today's action, the Commission steps up to its 
responsibility to enforce statutory and regulatory 
provisions restricting broadcast indecency and profanity.  
Recognizing that the First Amendment requires a delicate 
balance, the Supreme Court has held that the Commission can 
constitutionally regulate indecent broadcasts in the 
interests of protecting children from vulgarities broadcast 
over public airwaves to the public at large.  The same 
statute also proscribes broadcast profanity, and I am 
pleased that we apply a profanity definition endorsed by the 
courts to give meaning to our statutory directive.1  While 
we have historically interpreted ``profane'' to mean 
blasphemy, I support our application of the statute to the 
F-word, a highly offensive and commonly understood 

     I agree with the courts that what is indecent is 
largely a function of context, and cannot adequately be 
judged in an abstract, or per-se, manner.  In large part, 
the character of an act is informed by the circumstances in 
which it is done.  Yet, even for live award shows, where 
technology allows for the removal of isolated words, the 
gratuitous broadcast of the F-word is not justified.  The 
tens of thousands of emails, calls and letters that poured 
in to the Commission opposing this broadcast are telling of 
the sexual connotation and offensiveness of that word.  And 
its offensiveness does not depend on whether it is used as 
an adjective, adverb, verb or gerund.  

     Today's action does not fail to appreciate the cultural 
creativity and pluralism of our society.  There was no 
suggestion that the use of the F-word in this case was 
traced to any literary, artistic, political or scientific 
value.  Its use here was both gratuitous and easily 

     There should be no doubt, my strong preference here 
would have been to assess a fine against the licensees in 
this case.  Despite this preference, as a legal matter, 
today's action can be said to represent a departure from a 
previous line of cases issued before I joined the 
Commission.  Those cases routinely failed to take action 
against isolated uses of the F-word, an approach that was 
endorsed in our April 2001 Policy Statement.2  Our action 
today also represents a fresh, new approach to enforcing our 
statutory responsibility with respect to profane 
broadcasts.3  Regardless of my personal view, in such 
instances, licensees should have fair notice that the use of 
this language in a setting such as this would be found 
actionably indecent and profane.  Given the delicate 
authority the courts have permitted us under the First 
Amendment to enforce the indecency laws, the Commission must 
exercise care in affording licensees firm yet fair 
treatment.  Nonetheless, it should be abundantly clear from 
today's action that we are setting a clear line to broadcast 
indecency and profanity to which all licensees should adhere 
and which from now on will result in forfeitures and other 
enforcement sanctions.  

     Broadcasters, themselves, bear much of the 
responsibility to keep our airwaves decent.  As stewards of 
the public airwaves, they are in the position to showcase 
the best of our country's tremendous cultural heritage.  
Their choices will ultimately guide our future enforcement, 
as their transgressions will result in increasingly severe 
and swift action.  


1    See Tallman v. United States, 465 F.2d 282, 286 (7th 
Cir. 1972).  

2    See, e.g., Pacifica Foundation, Inc., 2 FCC Rcd 2698, 
2699 (1987); Infinity Broadcasting Corporation of 
Pennsylvania, Inc., 2 FCC Rcd 2705 (1987); Industry Guidance 
on the Commission's Case Law Interpreting 18 U.S.C.  1464 
and Enforcement Policies Regarding Broadcast Indecency, 16 
FCC Rcd 7999 (2001) (2001 Policy Statement) and cases cited 
in note 32 of this decision.  Included in these examples is 
a broadcast of Cher saying the F-word on the 2002 Billboard 
Awards Ceremony which was found not indecent.  

3    See 2001 Policy Statement (stating that ``[p]rofanity 
that does not fall under one of the above two categories 
[obscenity or indecency] is fully protected by the First 
Amendment and cannot be regulated.'').