- Israel hits symbols of Hamas rule; scores killed
- Mississippi abortion law can’t be enforced
- Teacher who survived Sandy Hook has book deal
- Jury awards Jesse Ventura $1.8M in case vs. ‘American Sniper’ author Chris Kyle
- Government OKs Arab-owned company to operate U.S. cargo port
- Defense lawyer: McDonnell’s wife had ‘crush’ on CEO
- Chinese hackers stole ‘huge quantities’ of sensitive data on Israel’s Iron Dome
- House unveils bill to speed deportations of illegal immigrant children
- Californians protest middle school for hiring white man to teach cultural studies
- Killer’s sentencing overturned because mother couldn’t find seat in courtroom
TV viewers weary of nudity and obscenity look for decency from FCC nominee
Question of the Day
The future of long-standing government bans on obscenity and nudity on the airwaves soon could become much clearer as President Obama’s pick to head the Federal Communications Commission faces a Senate confirmation hearing Tuesday — one day before the public comment period on the policy ends.
They also are calling for supporters to denounce an FCC proposal to pursue only “egregious” decency violations, saying that change would open the floodgates for partial nudity and rampant profanity during prime time.
“If you think TV is bad now, just wait until the FCC all but sanctions nudity and profanity, permitting both as long as they are ‘isolated,’ whatever that means,” Patrick A. Trueman, president and chief executive of Morality in Media, said in a recent email to supporters.
A spokesman for the broadcasting industry said Monday that because of FCC “overreach,” networks are legitimately worried that they will be sued for rare occasions in which a “fleeting expletive” or split second of nudity is aired.
It’s come to a point when networks can’t show a live eulogy about a fallen war hero for fear that someone will drop the “F-bomb” and expose the networks to huge fines, said Dennis Wharton, executive vice president of communications for the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), referring to an incident in Arizona.
The nation’s decency laws are likely to be discussed at the Senate hearing.
Current federal decency law forbids explicit profanity and nudity before 10 p.m. on public airwaves. However, FCC efforts to enforce the law have been challenged in court, and a 2012 U.S. Supreme Court ruling threw out penalties against networks because the FCC failed to give them “fair notice” about what was an actionable federal offense.
The FCC has since asked for comment on a policy that essentially would permit “isolated” profanity and nonsexual nudity to appear before 10 p.m. without fear of penalty. This presumably would mean that broadcasters would not be held responsible for curse words spoken on a live awards show or the kind of “wardrobe malfunction” that exposed Janet Jackson’s breast at the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show.
The comment period on the FCC policy change ends Wednesday. As of Monday evening, 99,096 comments had been filed. The vast majority were along the lines of Utah resident Randy Hughes’ comment: “We don’t need any more garbage on TV! There is enough garbage out there for those who want it. Those of us who don’t shouldn’t be forced to have to deal with it. You are making it impossible to watch any kind of TV without having to deal with filth!”
The NAB will file its comments Wednesday, Mr. Wharton said.
Mr. Wheeler’s position on the decency issue is not known, and the Senate should not confirm him “until it receives assurances that he’ll vigorously enforce the federal decency law, which prohibits indecency and profanity on broadcast TV,” Mr. Trueman said Monday.
“So we want [Mr. Wheeler] grilled on whether he will enforce the law and side with the American public, or continue [the previous FCC chairman’s] path and please the networks,” said Mr. Trueman, a former federal prosecutor of sex and obscenity crimes.
The Parents Television Council this month issued an analysis showing a rising number of “pixilated” groins, female breasts and other indecent images on network programming.
Almost 70 percent of this kind of “blurred” nudity is being shown on network programs that are rated for children 14 and younger, said Tim Winter, president of the Parents Television Council.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Cheryl Wetzstein covers family and social issues as a national reporter for The Washington Times. She has been a reporter for three decades, working in New York City and Washington, D.C. Since joining The Washington Times in 1985, she has been a features writer, environmental and consumer affairs reporter, and assistant business editor.
Beginning in 1994, Mrs. Wetzstein worked exclusively ...
- Mississippi abortion law can't be enforced
- Federal appeals court rules against Virginia's gay marriage ban
- Events honoring 20th National Parents' Day reaffirm family
- '50 Shades' movie trailer outrages anti-porn groups
- Tougher clinic rules lead to drop in Texas abortions
Latest Blog Entries
- Gay therapy ban author seeks Calif. House seat
- Transgender 'bathroom law' gets 5,000 more signatures
- Pro-life, stem-cell bill signed into law by Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback
- N. Dakota lawmakers approve tough abortion bill
- Pope Benedict XVI's successor should allow priests to get a new title: Husband, poll finds
TWT Video Picks
- Boehner rules out impeachment: 'Scam started by Democrats'
- Obama thanks Muslims for 'building the very fabric of our nation'
- Federal judge grants 90-day stay in D.C. gun case
- Obama: 'Not a new Cold War,' but new Russia sanctions announced
- Smugglers, rainstorm combine to poke holes in border fence
- Obama's brother wears Hamas scarf bearing anti-Israel slogans in photo
- PHILLIPS: Once-in-a-century stupidity
- D.C. seeks to stay judge's order allowing gun owners to carry in public
- PRUDEN: When the hangman botches the job
- Kerry's credibility questioned as fighting in Gaza rages
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world