Congressman Demands FCC Overturn "F-Word" Ruling

Jenni Parker | Agape Press | Monday, November 24, 2003

Congressman Demands FCC Overturn "F-Word" Ruling

A U.S. congressman from Mississippi has sent a letter to the Enforcement Bureau of the Federal Communications Commission strongly condemning its decision to deny complaints about the use of the "f-word" during the recent Golden Globe Awards ceremony broadcast.

Representative Charles "Chip" Pickering says he is both extremely disappointed and outraged over what he considers to be the latest in a long string of FCC decisions establishing "a deeply disturbing precedent" of allowing vulgarity to be broadcast over the nation's airwaves.

The current controversy erupted after singer Bono of the group U2 made the indecent utterance during the January 19th airing of this year's Golden Globe Awards. The Parents Television Council and more than 200 other complainants accused several TV stations nationwide of violating restrictions on obscene broadcasts by airing the program, or parts of it. However, after the Enforcement Bureau reviewed the complaints, it rejected them all.

According to a Miami Herald report, the FCC determines what is indecent content by examines context and considering whether an "average listener" would be offended by the material. Enforcement Bureau Chief David H. Solomon released the decision Oct. 3, claiming the expletive might be "crude and offensive, but, in the context presented here, did not describe sexual or excretory organs or activities." He said the Bureau has "previously found that fleeting and isolated remarks of this nature do not warrant commission action."

But Congressman Pickering is deeply concerned by the FCC's response to the complaints. "This latest decision opens the floodgates for an unrelenting stream of such language," he says.
As a father of five, Pickering says he is wary of enjoying an evening before the television with his own children, or listening to the radio in the car with them, lest they be inundated with obscenities. He feels the Bureau's reasoning is absurd and not what Congress intended, or "what Americans expect."

"No ordinary American stops to consider how the "f-word" is used . . . before deciding whether it is indecent or profane to his or her own self or family," the representative says, adding, "It is time for the FCC to follow this model and apply simple, ordinary common sense to such situations in the interest of the American public."

Pickering points out that the FCC has the authority to issue warnings, impose fines, or even revoke station licenses in order to punish broadcast entities for failing to comply with obscenity laws. But Pickering says the FCC has repeatedly failed and continues to fail to use its power to the fullest. While the FCC has assessed notices of liability in small amounts against a few violators, few fines have been collected and no licenses have been revoked.

Congressman Pickering's letter expresses extreme disapproval with the Enforcement Bureau's action. He is calling upon the FCC to make an example of the present case by reversing the bureau's decision and "diligently enforcing the statutory mandate which Congress has set forth to address obscenity, indecency and profanity on our public airwaves."

© 2003 Agape Press.

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