Pubcasters Louisiana Public Broadcasting, Twin Cities Public Television and KCOS-TV in El Paso, Texas, were among the almost 700 broadcasters whose licenses were renewed en masse earlier this month, after the FCC quietly cleared many stations nationwide of indecency charges. The renewals had been on hold due to allegations that some of their programming may have violated FCC regulations barring broadcasters from airing indecent material between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. The complaints were thrown out as part of an agency effort to reduce the backlog of applications to be processed. The complaint against LPB was apparently over an episode of Doc Martin, according to LPB President Beth Courtney. “You’re kidding me” was Courtney’s reaction when she learned of the complaint’s target, she said. “There was nothing that I saw under any guideline that would be a problem,” Courtney said, adding that the agency’s rejection of the complaint “was the appropriate response.”
The complaint pending against Twin Cities was apparently over “blurred nudity” in an episode of Globe Trekker, according to station spokesperson Elle Krause-Lyons.
NPR is advocating for the Federal Communications Commission to loosen its policies surrounding broadcast decency standards, and retreat from a “zero tolerances” approach to one that only targets “egregious cases.”
July 3, 1978
FCC v. Pacifica Foundation: The Supreme Court upheld the FCC’s right to ban indecent speech when children could be expected to be in the audience. Pacifica’s WBAI in New York had aired George Carlin’s “Filthy Words” monologue in the afternoon of Oct. 30, 1973. Upshot: Confirmed both the FCC’s right to regulate indecent language and its definition of such speech as that which depicts “sexual or excretory activities or organs in terms patently offensive as measured by contemporary community standards for the broadcast medium.” Indecent material falls short of obscenities, which are banned at all hours. Aug.
FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION v. PACIFICA FOUNDATION ET AL. CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE DISTRICT OF
No. 77-528. Argued in the U.S. Supreme Court, April 18-19, 1978, and decided, July 3, 1978. See full text and citations on FindLaw.