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Middle ground proposed on indecency.


The National Religious Broadcasters think the FCC needs to stay tough on indecency enforcement, and it urges the agency to scrap a plan to focus only on the most egregious violations.  But as a group of broadcasters, NRB sees a pragmatic middle road that could also help stations cope with unexpected four-letter words that make it onto the airwaves.

The NRB proposes the FCC establish two narrow and “very limited” exceptions to the fleeting expletive rules.  The first would cover slips of the tongue during live news events.  It points to the unexpected use of the “f-word” by Red Sox player David Ortiz in the pre-game ceremonies following the Boston Marathon bombings.  The second exception would be for a broadcast that has “serious artistic, literary, social, political, or scientific value for children” — and as long as the station gives adequate warnings to parents.   Examples would include pictures of naked bodies in a concentration camp as part of a World War II documentary, or the four-letter words used during the film “Saving Private Ryan.”

Beyond those two carve outs, the current 6am-10pm off-limits nature of salty language and nudity would remain in place if NRB gets its way.  “There are already many dangers permitted in broadcast programs and ads,” NRB president Frank Wright says.  “It would be egregious for the FCC to lower its standards more.”

As for the award shows that have drawn the most complaints and fines in recent years, SVP Craig Parshall says those programs wouldn’t exempt those broadcasters, saying they wouldn’t pass the “serious value” test they’re proposing the FCC use.

The FCC has collected about 100,000 comments so far about its proposed changes to indecency rules.


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