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March 16, 2006



The Technology Liberation Front has an interesting article on this, a rather optimistic outlook on the coming legal battles. Let's hope that they are right.

flip phillips

i would like to point out that the section commenting about Ron Jeremy et alia, FCC-06-17 pp. 9+, uses the word prong several times.


See, this is why they're stacking the courts. Get this in front of some nice, neo-con judges and next thing you know they have precedent to start "regulating" the whole thing, cable, the net, et cetera.

Also, what do they do with all the money they actually collect from fines? Seriously, I want to know.

Bill W

Are "safe harbor" hours (is it 10pm-5am?) pretty much dead? Someone told me that's when a bunch of the programming that got fined wasaired.


Safe Harbor hours are between 10pm and 6am, and during those times, a limited amount of indecent material may air. It is assumed that children will not be watching TV during those late hours.

There are a few rumors circulating that many of the stations fined for indecency during this go-around had actually aired the questionable material during Safe Harbor hours. This rumor appears unfounded, based on the FCC's paperwork.

In EVERY case that a fine was issued to a station in this round of decisions, the material deemed "indecent" by the FCC was aired at least once outside of Safe Harbor hours (according to the FCC docs I linked to in this post).

The monster fine of $3.6 million, thrown at CBS for airing the show "Without A Trace," was directed only toward CBS affiliates who aired the program outside of Safe Harbor hours AND had a viewer complaint lodged against them for the episode in question. The same episode also aired during Safe Harbor hours in some areas, and those stations were not issued a fine.

For the Omnibus batch of decisions, some stations that were fined actually aired the suspect programming multiple times (both during Safe Harbor hours and non-Safe Harbor hours, and/or during Safe Harbor hours in some time zones, but not all). Even if the program aired only once outside of Safe Harbor, the FCC sites that one instance as a rationale for the fine.

The Super Bowl halftime show obviously aired before 10pm in all U.S. timezones, so Safe Harbor protection is not a valid issue in this case (which is not to say that there are plenty of valid reasons that a fine is unnecessary...)


According to the FCC's own website, "indecent" and "profane" material is OK between 10pm and 6am, without any limitations. That includes any and all swearwords and strong language. What is not protected is "obscene" content, which basically means pornography. I don't think the FCC has ever fined a radio station for obscenity, but I might be wrong. That being said, many radio stations prefer to be on the safe side and never play "fuck" at all, which is really regrettable. (Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, and this is not legal advice.)


I for one would love to read the complaint letters that prompted these various investigations. Especially the one in which the Simpsons episode was cited. Is this where a Freedom of Information Act request would be well put to use? Or are they available on the FCC site? Hmmmmm . . .

Tyler Love

The funniest thing I ever saw was "Dirty Jobs" (Bravo?) blurring out a dog's penis when doing a show on being a groomer. They lifted the dog up in the bath to wash his tummy and thank Dog, I was saved from the sight of puppy-thingie 'cos who knows what could've happened to me.


I never knew of the hypocrisy of the FCC, I had assumed they were uniform in their idiotic decisions. So Comedy Central doesn't get fined for their Secret Stash on Saturday nights?

Also, I recently saw a Venture Brothers episode on Adult Swim where a stripper's thong-clad heiney was censored with a black box, but the last time I watched it was uncensored, so was that unprotected by the Safe Hours?


Comedy Central is on cable, so the FCC censorship rules don't apply to them (yet). There are political attempts to expand the mandate of the FCC to censor cable TV and satellite radio, so I guess the cable stations try to limit the "indecent" content in order not to alienate potential political allies.

Billy The Blogging Poet

Please see my thoughts and thanks for the info.


Update! The FCC actually DID screw up on fining stations who aired "Without A Trace" during safe harbor hours, I added more info about this at the end of the post.

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