|FCC Approves Use of "F" Word on TV and Radio|
|Netlore Archive: American Family Association urges letter-writing campaign in response to an FCC ruling allowing limited use of the 'F-word' in radio and TV broadcasts|
Email example contributed by Elaine, 15 Nov 2003:
FCC APPROVES USE OF THE "F" WORD ON TV AND RADIO!
The Federal Communications Commission has approved the use of the "F" word for use on any TV show or radio program, ANYTIME DAY OR NIGHT!
The FCC said the word can be used whenever desired except in sexual situations!
That means that real soon you will be watching a sit-com on TV, or news, or any drama or movie-ANY PROGRAM-and it's ok! Hollywood is rejoicing!
Soon, when you are driving your kids to school you will be listening to a song which makes extensive use of the word.
Shock jocks such as Howard Stern are now free to use any language, no matter how vile and repugnant, on their radio shows. And use it they will.
No longer will movies shown on TV have to be edited because of language.
WE MUST ACT NOW TO STOP THIS!
Send your letter to your Congressman, Senators and members of the FCC. Let them know that you want this stopped-NOW!
Please send you letter now. And please forward this letter to your email list asking them to get involved.
If it isn't stopped now, in a few months verbal pornography will rule the airways!
Please act today. Help us get 1,000,000 email letters to members of Congress, Senators and FCC Commissioners.
Thanks for getting involved!
Donald E. Wildmon, Founder and Chairman
Comments: This is a legitimate "Action Alert" from Donald E. Wildmon's American Family Association, which regularly tackles social and political issues from a conservative Christian point of view. It is basically accurate in its statement of the facts, though some broadcasters dispute the allegation that "verbal pornography will rule the airways" as a result of the FCC opinion.
During the Golden Globe Awards ceremony on January 19, 2003, which was broadcast by NBC-TV and seen in more than 14 million American households, U2 lead singer Bono caused a stir by uttering the F-word ("This is really, really, fucking brilliant," is exactly what he said) during his acceptance speech for the songwriting award. Partially as a result of an online campaign started by the Parents Television Council (dedicated to restoring "responsibility and decency to the entertainment industry"), the FCC received thousands of complaints against the network and its affiliates from offended viewers over the course of the year, prompting an October 3 ruling by the agency's Enforcement Bureau.
Noting that its own rules and precedents, limited by the First Amendment and the Communications Act of 1934, require that actionable speech in radio or TV broadcasts meet strict definitions of "obscene, indecent or profane," the FCC ruled that although the word "fucking" may be "crude and offensive," its "fleeting and isolated use" in this instance was not indecent, because it did not "describe sexual or excretory organs or activities," nor obscene, because it did not "appeal to prurient interest," and therefore did not violate the law.
Backlash and Industry Reaction
The American Family Association and the Parents Television Council, among others, have voiced outrage at the FCC ruling, predicting it will open floodgates of indecency and obscenity on radio and TV. Entertainment industry executives insist otherwise. "We have an incredibly stringent broadcast standards and practices department," an ABC spokesman told the Denver Post. Roland McFarland, Fox Television's head of standards and practices said, "We try to be very judicious; we look at context, audience composition, all of that." Radio broadcasters concur. "There's still a code of ethics that I think broadcasters live by," New Radio Group general manager Wayne Ripp told the Stevens Point Journal in Wisconsin, "and for the most part, I think most broadcasters abide by that." Some broadcasters even expressed disappointment in the FCC ruling.
Consumers who wish to contact the FCC on this matter may send email to email@example.com or snail mail to:
Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street, SW
Washington, DC 20554
Sources and further reading:
FCC Memorandum Opinion and Order
In the Matter of: Complaints against various broadcast licensees regarding their airing of the "Golden Globe Awards," 3 October 2003
FCC Factsheet: Obscene and Indecent Broadcasts
From the Federal Communications Commission Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau
FCC OKs Bono's F-Word Slip
CBS News, 7 October 2003
FCC Approves 'F' Word on TV and Radio!
American Family Association "Action Alert"
PTC Demands Response from FCC Commissioners Over F-Word Decision
Parents Television Council press release, 21 October 2003
TV Execs Swear There Are Standards
Denver Post, 29 October 2003
Ultimate Curse Won't Be Heard: Radio Shies Away
Stevens Point Journal, 14 November 2003
Last updated: 11/15/03