A Look At Indecency Complaints To The FCC

from the roller-coaster-ride dept

The FCC refuses to detail its rules for what’s “indecent” on TV, even as they’ve been handing out a lot more fines over the last few years. They claim to do so would be akin to censorship. Instead, they simply respond when people complain, and then determine (afterwards) whether the broadcast was technically indecent. Of course, as has been pointed out in the past, that’s a problem when many of the claims of indecency are generated by web-based forms on the sites of certain “family-friendly groups” who urge their followers to complain, even if they haven’t seen the video. In some cases, the vast majority of the complaints are from these form letters. Ironically, if the people sending in these complaints have seen the offending video at all, it’s often because some of the “family groups” post them to their own websites to stir up the outrage. So, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to see Matthew Lasar look through the stats on FCC indecency complaints and note that it’s quite a roller coaster ride, with periods of time when the FCC gets almost no complaints, to times when suddenly over 100,000 come in. Of course, you could point out that the data alone does not prove that someone’s “stuffing” the complaint box, since there probably isn’t an equal distribution of content on television that people consider indecent. However, when combined with the other reports that have shown that nearly all, if not all of the complaints are based on the same form letter, it really does make you wonder what the FCC thinks it’s doing. Considering that some studies have shown the vast majority of Americans think the FCC has no place censoring TV, it seems like maybe the FCC should focus on more pressing issues. Otherwise, we just get a chilling effect as affiliates refuse to run certain programs just in case groups gang up on them and the FCC declares the video indecent.

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Comments on “A Look At Indecency Complaints To The FCC”

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fuzzix (user link) says:

Re: The Alternative

Do we want to wake up to watching homos doing each other on CNN, the Cartoon Network showing Incest Marathons?

Well, I’d certainly start watching TV again.

Do we want to live under the tyranny of a sexualized culture instead, demanding constant obedience to reptilian instincts?

Sounds great! You, sir, are a true visionary!

Mike Mixer (profile) says:

Re: The Alternative

It always comes down to the worst case scenario with you pseudo-religious types doesn’t it? But, just for a moment, let’s go with this line of reasoning.You
think the worst case is homosexuals engaging in intercourse and marathon incest on tv. Now that we eliminated what you find offensive it’s somone else’s turn.What shall we protest?Hmm, I know, how about
being subjected to hearing preaching on tv as I am cycling through the channels to find something to watch? Who knows who the perpetrator might be,
Beni Han or some other bible thumper, doesn’t matter though, they need to get that programming
which is offensive to me off the air. What do you mean freedom of religion, you just took away something I liked because you didn’t like it now it’s my turn. And don’t say we’ll vote,your choice wasn’t put to a vote so mine isn’t either. Fair’s fair. Now who is next? how about overweight people on a diet
wanting to shut down all cooking shows and food commercials so they won’t be tempted or somebody
who detests sports getting all televised sports eliminated? You can’t have your freedom to the detriment of somebody else’s, differences must be tolerated because the brush of censorship is wide and fickle. One day you might just need your freedom
so be careful how you allow yourself to be used as a tool to abridge others.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: The Alternative

Dorkus, that’s about the most absurd thing I’ve ever heard.

Just because someone doesn’t find the airing of DOGMA to be indecent, doesn’t mean that something truly indecent would be tolerated.

You are the classic example of why people think religion is the “opiate of the masses”. Think for yourself you retard.

Adam says:

Re: The Alternative

Do we want to wake up to watching homos doing each other on CNN, the Cartoon Network showing Incest Marathons?

Do we want to live under the tyranny of a sexualized culture instead, demanding constant obedience to reptilian instincts?

if the choices are only between the two, then yes, I will go with the choice of “sexualized culture” down the other path is tyrany. But the reality is that your vision of “sexualization” is bogus.

its legal to produce and distribute playboy, obviously that means (by your logic) that all magizine and print will be smut and pornography!

you have the V-Chip, cripple your own TV. STOP trying to decide what everyone else gets to have.

The single phrase that can keep me from voteing for ANY candidate is “We have to do this for the children.” That phrase (and its kin) are all the basis a poliece state needs.

Christian Peper (user link) says:

Re: Re: The Alternative

We now live in a classic police state. Police look forward to “busting down” the youth. Republicans once wanted small government but now republicans are obsessed with creating a massive big police state government. The fascism that is here in America comes with big flags and bibles but it is still fascism. The FCC is nothing but another outgrowth of big government.

Embarassed Conservative says:


When are we going to stop appeasing small-interest groups and worry about the majority in this “democratic” country of ours. It is so unfortunate that the Majority voice means nothing in this day in age. God forbid we see a nipple on television, our eyes might burn out of our head. And to all of those “concerned” about our children and feel like we need to protect them from the horrific images and words on television and radio (because they are NEVER exposed to any of that in schools across america) I say be better parents. If my parents didn’t want me to see soft-core porn on late night HBO, they made sure my room didn’t have a cable box. It’s very simple…stop blaming everybody else in this country and start holding yourself responsiblwe for the shitty job you’re doing as a parent.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Ugh

I agree that parents generally do a poor job at monitoring what their children watch on tv. However, when Janet whipped out her nipple, that wasn’t on late night HBO or in another cable venue – it was on prime time during a “family” show. I don’t really care if it’s the FCC or some other organization, but somebody certainly needs to enforce the boundaries.

Voice of Reason says:

Re: Re: Ugh

Well, accidents DO happen. If you believe that Janet’s wardrobe incident was indeed accidental (besides, the more offensive boob was Justin Timberlake — and he was exposed the whole time) then you realize that it’s a touch difficult to adjudicate such things proactively. If you aren’t convinced, do a P2P client search on “oops” and check back with me.

For that particular Superbowl, the FCC allowed all the other acts to go on, including Kid Rock dancing around in an American Flag and more crotch grabbing than Michael Jackson on the “It’s a Small World” ride. That’s not to mention the fact that the entire “family friendly” event was sponsored by beer and erectile disfunction ads.

Tired answers, true — but it’s the same answers asshats who believe it’s the FCC’s job to prevent accidents. The FCC can’t even do their REAL job which is to enforce and make decisions in line with their earlier rulings. They are a perfect example of a goverment agency that has failed their purpose. Thankfully, FCC’s handling of Janet-gate was nothing as devastating as FEMA’s reaction to Katrina. Keep things in perspective — you’re just trying to enforce your taste and tollerance. A quaint notion, but in a representative republic, tell it to your congressman. I know my congressman has an earfull of my views on such wastes of effort and energy!

socrates3001 says:

Re: Re: Ugh

Some parents are to blame for their children’s behavior. However, there are several families in this country that cannot support themselves without both parents working. Even when they try to have one at home with the children at all times, constant supervision is not possible.
If we want children to be raised by their parents, we need to make it economically feasible for the parents to be home when the children are home. Technologies like the V-chip are a poor substitute for supervision by attendance. A V-chip cannot keep the child home, preventing him or her from watching a friend’s television, when the parent is away.
Supervision means overseeing what happens and discussion what did happen to help train acceptable behaviour. This cannot be properly done without parents being home to raise their children.

Brad says:

Re: Re: Ugh

I’m tired of hearing about Janet’s nipple. Unless you had the even recorded, and replayed it 15 times, and zoomed in on it, your child didn’t see a damn thing. If he/she did see a nipple — it wasn’t the first one they’d seen. It’s a breast, not a live execution.

Another few years and the religious nutbags in this country and their allies at Fox and the GOP will have instilled enough fear and created enough phantom enemies to ruin the country.

Anonymous Coward says:

By the time my comment reaches the page, there is a good chance that another stupid censorship is underway. I have yet to understand why is it that people having sex on TV is worst than the violent movies shown where people get killed left and right. If you think about it, erotic scenes should not only be allowed but also encouraged. Every person alive was conceived by lust. So why is it that TV can show some movie where people’s gut are splattered all over the screen scene, but have to insert blurring squares on top of a simpla ass crack in a movie?

CENSORSHIP SUCKS(and not in a good way)!

Frederick Lane (profile) says:

New Book on FCC and Decency

Hi all —

For those who are interested in this subject, please check out “The Decency Wars: The Campaign to Cleanse American Culture.” I am the author of “The Decency Wars,” which is a history of the battles over decency in American history. Included in the book is the story of how the FCC started, how it came to police indecency, and how (and why) religious groups have tried to use the power of the FCC to promote a particular moral agenda.

The book can be obtained at local bookstores or online. If anyone has any questions, please let me know.



The Censor says:

Get serious people...

Get serious….you claim that the FCC is bowing to a minority, a special interest group….

I think that if 100,000 people complain about the content of a TV show (i.e. Dan Rather saying “F*CK YOU, George Bush) then they themselves are not a small special interest group. They are a small sampling of that group that:

1. Has internet access.
2. Is a subscriber to Focus on the Family.
3. Read the “call to action”.
4. Took the time to respond by filling in their details.

You can be sure that there are MANY MANY MANY more peopel in that group than a mere 100,000.

But lets get back to the main issue. What is indecency and how many Americans need to be offended before anything is done?

By the way Mike, I have been coming here for years. I enjoy your writing and I love the site. I a disappointed that you took the side that you did in this debate.

Alex says:

Re: Get serious people...

You can’t be offended by something you didn’t see! It’s duplicitous. What if the person who told you to be offended was lying about the content? What if you’re not as prudish as the person who issued the call to action? Aren’t you at all worried about being used as a weapon by others with an ulterior motive?

Here’s a more interesting question: If I issued a “call to action” to DEFEND an inoffensive show, would you help?

Araemo says:

Re: Get serious people...

So, you think 100,000 people is not a minority? with 300,000,000 people in the country, 100,000 is less than 2/100ths of a percent of the population. 0.025%! That is by definition a minority. A minority by a huge margin. Even if that was only 1/10th of the whole ‘group’ as you argue, that would still be only 0.25%, one quarter of one percent, which is still a tiny minority.

Anonymous Coward says:

What kind of stupidity is this? What the heck is wrong with seeing a niple on TV? Why is that a major reason for panic? If a nipple is so bad, then only bad inmoral people would have them.

The same people that get insulted by a nipple on TV or an ass crack are the same ones that at the first chance would suck on one for pure lust.

I vote for more nakedness on TV and less violence and “killing people” movies.

As far as I am concerned, there has one been one sexless/un-spermed birth in the history of the human race and even that is debatable. why the heck is it that in USA we have such stupid censorship laws?

Insaniac says:

Re: What is going on?

What are you people talking about? Everyone keeps shouting about the freedoms they are entitled to, but no one really seems to be looking at the true issue. What freedoms are being restricted?

“I vote for more nakedness on TV and less violence and “killing people” movies.”

Do you realize that when you “vote” for more nakedness and less violence, that you are doing exactly what the other side is doing? Everyone has a right to declare what they want….to ‘cast their vote’ for the side they feel is right. For you, it seems less offensive to view nudity instead of violence. For another individual, it is the opposite. If you have the right to express your views, shouldn’t they be afforded the same right?

” If you think about it, erotic scenes should not only be allowed but also encouraged.”

Unless I am mistaken, every person in this country (over 18) has the freedom to view as much erotic and naked content as they want. You have dozens of avenues to fulfull your lustful desires….like the internet, premier cable, video purchases and rentals. Censorship of television does not restrict your right to view whatever you want. It simply protects the rights of those who do not wish to view those things.

Of course it would be very easy to argue that “if you don’t want to see it, use the ‘power button’ on the tv”, but why should i be forced to not watch television if i don’t want to see sex or nudity? Why cater only to those that want to see that content, especially when they have so many other avenues to go see it?

It just seems like a group of people can’t get enough so they want their personal pasttimes to bleed over into mainstream television. Not only is that unnecessary, but it’s unfair to those that don’t wish to view those things, but still enjoy watching television.

Insaniac says:

Re: Re: Re: What is going on?

There are two possible reasons for that.

1 – you live in a congressional district where you are the minority. Therefore, your congressman/woman does not represent your voting preferences.

2 – you live in a country where you are in the minority. Therefore, you must engage in debate to change the minds of others to bring your views into the majority.

Miss America says:

Re: Re: What is going on?

I find it very telling that the people who are most against so-called censorship are not such good spellers. Regardless, I completely agree that in this sex saturated culture, why is it necessary to force people who just want to watch a little television with their families to view unwanted sex? Is it not enough that 98% of the movies out there, the video games, the magazines and of course the internet provide unlimited sex and porn for the pervs to get their fill of? It is REALLY necessary to show it all on television as well????? All of you whiney pervo babies out there who are freaking out and screaming censorship should shut the hell up already and go entertain yourselves in front of your computers. Let the non-sex fiends at least have television.

Anonymous Coward says:

society will collapse once moralities are imposed on everybody. unless there’s someone’s actually getting hurt and it isn’t just their feelings, then something can be done. but why doesn’t everybody in America just grow up, realize that if you want to be free and have freedom of speech, sometimes things will be said or seen that offend you and thats the price of freedom. if you take that away, you’re fighting against what this country stands for. a$$holes. and yes, i hope that offended you.

Matthew says:


Did you say anything there? A hundred-thousand people out of 250 MILLION is a small group. Even if that is a sample of one percent of that group, 10million out of 250 million is still a small minority.

If Dan Rather told Bush to fuck off *I* might think that’s good TV. Hell, I thought Bush flipping the cameras off and swearing at a campaign event was great TV. Those 100K already have a voice in the system; it’s called the channel changer.

The fact that they are organized into a narrow minded avenue with an agenda does not mean they are the voice of the country. They want you to think like them because they think their way of thinking is better than anything else.


But let’s get back to the main issue. What is indecency and how many Americans need to be offended before anything is done?

The answer: Zero. Freedom of speech is the backbone of this country. If you are offended by something then either fight or flee. However, fighting what you deem offensive does not mean you get to hide it from everyone else. Stop watching the program, boycott the advertisers, make your own show stating how silly that other show was if you like, but don’t tell me what I can or cannot say.

I can’t stand Howard Stern, but he’s still out there for a reason. I don’t like him and I don’t listen to him, but bless the 1st Ammendment for giving him and his audience their narrow minded avenue to cruise down.

Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) says:

Censorship and why?

The whole fine thing on that Janet Jackson fiasco was stupid. It was an accident, I hope. I like the point that if you really want to see boobs, sex, or whatever you are into, you only need to log onto the internet, you could get instant results, instead of waiting around for the plot to come around to a short sex scene.
There are a few reasons why I think censorship is a good thing on public TV. One, I wouldn’t want something like that to show up while watching with my kids or parents, even worse grandparents. Uggh! Secondly, it may be that fact that public TV is a government enforced (owned practically) entity. I know some Anonomous Coward is going to say, “Uh, the government doesn’t own public TV,” but we all know that they do. Why should they provide that sort of content and be responsible for it.

wolff000 says:


A child, any child no matter what the age should not be forbidden to see nudity, sexualliy explicit material block for the young ones but nudity itself is what God intended. I personally don’t believe in the whole God thing but if we were created then he intened us to be nude. If he wanted us in clothes why don’t we have fur to cover things like all the other animals. Adam and Eve in every picture I have seen is nude almost all depictions of Angels, really old ones anyway, they are eother nude or only partially covered. So what is the difference between Eve’s nipples and Janet Jackson’s? Half the people screaming about indecency are Christian so tell me where in the bible does it say we should always be clothed? Yes other religious text give instruction for this but not the Christian Bible. I am betting 99% of the people complaining are Christian so tell me why do they thing what God gave us is evil? I for one see nothing wrong with the human form clothed or nude. Do I want to see what I consider unattatractive people nude, no but not I or any other person on this planet has the right to tell them they can’t show what they were born with/ God gave them.

Eileen says:


My issue is not with nudity it is that it is always and ONLY women that are shown naked! Put some naked men on the screen and I won’t complain.

If the networks – run by men – really felt that nudity was OK then both sexes would be EQUALLY undressed. The nudity we are being exposed to is sexist and demening to women.

Insaniac says:

the real issue

The real issue at hand shouldn’t be whether censorship should take place. I’m fairly confident that most people agree that it should. Don’t belive me? Answer this question:

Who would have a problem if they watched a television program that showed in explicit detail a woman having sex with a man?

Now answer this question: Who would have a problem with it if the woman was a 4 year old girl and the man was 45?

The thought is sickening to most people, and understandably so. Most people in the country, no matter how depraved they are, will recognize that there are moral limitations in this world. Certain things deserve to be respected and some things just should not be encouraged. The real question, then, should be what to censor….and how.

There are really two issues to consider with the FCC: their methodology, and where they draw the line for censorship.

It is generally understood that the FCC censors television, so refusing to set decency standards under the pretense of it being “akin to censorship” is silly. Also, why are the networks the only ones being held responsible for the ‘indecency’? If someone hosts a website where libelous material is posted, the website isn’t held accountable…the poster is. Why should different rules apply to television?

Secondly, where should the FCC draw the line on decency? What is appropriate and what isn’t? An individual’s freedom stops where it begins to infringe upon another person’s freedom. So, someone can’t knife another person in the thigh simply because it’s a free country. At least, if they do, there will be consequences because everyone has the right to walk down the street without the fear of being knifed in the thigh.

So the real question is what is the best balance between the rights of the person who wants to view erotic, violent or vulgar content vs. the rights of the person who doesn’t? Who can say…..but i’m just tired of everyone behaving as if their side is the only side that matters. Both sides are entitled to be heard.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: the real issue

>>Now answer this question: Who would have a problem with it if the woman was a 4 year old girl and the man was 45?

This argument is idiotic – A. It would be illegal for a man who was 45 to have sex with a 4 year old girl – Therefore if it happened the person who filmed it would be prosecuted for aiding and abetting the act. There have already been several rules about how, where and what can be filmed where children are involved.

I doubt you can find many people, if any, arguing that illegal acts should be filmed and distributed over network TV. As for the rest, as someone said already, you can always change the channel.

Insaniac says:

Re: Re: the real issue

“This argument is idiotic – A. It would be illegal for a man who was 45 to have sex with a 4 year old girl”

Exactly. But why is it illegal? Because when we landed on American soil the native americans told us that was the case? Nope. It’s because the majority said it should be illegal. The argument is valid. I simply stated that most people would argue that censorship is important to some degree – illegal activities included. Too many people see censorship as a bad word that completely contradicts American ideals. I wanted to point out that this is not necessarily the case, although censorship should be done wisely or it could go too far. So, my original question remains: Where should the line be drawn?

“As for the rest, as someone said already, you can always change the channel.”

If they only had the content we’ve been discussing on a Vice Channel, it would be a simply matter to change the channel. But we’re not discussing whether to allow premier cable to offer channels dedicated to such content. We’re discussing mainsteam television. If every station is allowed to air vulgar content, changing the content is fruitless because it will only be more of the same. I therefore declare your argument “idiotic”.

Luci (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: the real issue

Insaniac, your arguments just continue to make no sense. The majority decided that having sex with a 4 year old was should be illegal, and that’s censorship? Let us take a little look at this, shall we? Because you need to come up with something better than this one. A 4 year old is incapable of making decisions regarding their body. Why? Because we say so? Or because they are not mentally and emotionally developed enout to make these decisions? So, if they cannot make decisions like this, then we are talking about rape, because obviously the child could not consent to the act, being mentally and emotionally underdeveloped.

Now, you’ll probably retort that the same can be said about the developmentally disabaled (ie, mentally retarded, but we’re trying to be nice about this, right? Not that I see what’s wrong with the term). In fact, that same argument /has/ been used in cases where a personal with mental retardation has had sex with another persion. Successfully used. As unfortunate as that might seem, there are reasons for everything, and they are not always censorship.

In the context that we are speaking of, censorship is the denial of the transmission of ideas or information that some might find offensive. Someone, I believe it was you or Dorpus, said that it isn’t censorship if we can view the material in another medium. Cable TV or internet, for instance, and yet not everyone has either of those? And who the HELL are you to tell me I can’t watch what I want on my television? Oh, no! I might /enjoy/ watching homosexual acts as much as heterosexual acts! I must be a terrorist or a morally corrupt person! Maybe I just happen to enjoy sexuallity in all its forms? Maybe I enjoy watching a couple dozen bad guys get blown to hell in some drama?

The point? Simple. Censorship of media should not take place. Not at the urging of any group, no matter how large or small that group might be. Don’t believe like I do? That’s fine. Just don’t go shoving your beliefs down my throat. There’s space in the airwaves for about 100 broadcast channels. Want a channel that caters to you? BUILD IT.

Insaniac says:

Re: Re: Re:2 the real issue

Let me state more clearly what i mean.

First, what does it mean for something to be illegal? For an act to be considered illegal, it must violate the legal code of a given country or governing body. For there to be a law added to the legal code in the United States, Congress must vote to institute the law. In order for the Congress to vote, a majority of Americans (broken down by congressional districts, of course) must vote to put the Congressmen/women in office. Hence my argument that the illegal act of statuatory rape is made illegal by the will of the majority of Americans. It’s important to note here that i did not say that we voted to make it immoral. I didn’t claim that a 4yrold is incapable of making sexual decisions simply because we said so. Rather, I pointed out that we simply voted to make it against the law. Presumably, our moral views should direct how we vote, and will ultimately determine what is illegal, but they are not one and the same. This may seem to be purely semantics, but it’s still an important distinction to make.

Secondly, my point was that censorship already takes place in various ways, and that most Americans appreciate that censorship. In other words, because it has been made illegal to participate in statuatory rape/child pornography, it inhibits a network from airing anything of this nature. It’s really a fairly obvious argument, but it is simply meant to point out that censorship is not necessarily at odds with American Ideals. Also important to note is the fact that censorship in excess can be completely at odds with American ideals. But, the potential for evil does not negate the good that censorship offers when practiced wisely and in moderation. Many people forget that to the detriment of their argument.

erinol0 says:

Re: the real issue

I follow what you’re saying, but in reality it isn’t the case that the majority of TV programs are in a hurry to show child molestation.

One of the central themes of Techdirt seems to me to be to allow market forces to regulate business. Personally, if I saw child molestation was going to be present in a television show, or saw it while watching a program, I wouldn’t watch it (as, coincidentally, I’m sure that the majority would likewise do), and therefore shows that display extreme content like that wouldn’t attract a large enough audience to attract big money advertising, and wouldn’t continue to be on TV (not to mention the fact that that kind of sexual deviance is illegal).

Insaniac says:

Re: Re: the real issue

Interesting point. I like your argument, but I do have one question. For a system like the one you’ve described to work, many who do not wish to view vulgar and explicit content may still come in to contact with it, even if they try to avoid it by ‘using the channel changer’ or limiting the amount of tv they watch.

So, the question is, should the market dictate the content simply by tuning out, or are more proactive measures acceptible if viewers already know they do not want a certain type of content to be displayed?

erinol0 says:

Re: Re: Re: the real issue

Initially, I suppose that there would be some aggressive use of explicit content, mostly for “shock value”, but soon the “shock” would be gone. And the ratings boost that it brings would disappear.

Most of the interest viewers have in this is in seeing the envelope pushed. After all, if there is no line to cross anymore, the incentive will disappear as well.

Ultimately, people want good quality programming. And advertisers want eyeballs for there ads and the sales that it brings.

So, (using another common Techdirt theme) “vote” with your purchases. If there is a negative (or at least no positive) effect to buying advertising spots on “indecent” shows, then companies won’t buy ad spots, and TV stations won’t make shows with that content.

By proactively policing content, it costs *a lot* of taxpayer dollars with very little benefit (and it opens the possibility of future censorship). Growing up, my parents always pre-viewed any potentially questionable content before letting me view it. By crowdsourcing it to parents, it saves a lot of money and does not require the government to protect our children.

We need to protect our own children, instead of abdicating the responsibility to the government, and blaming them for our failure to protect our children.

Unknown Headache says:

Re: the real issue

I see the point you are trying to make… However, we have guidlines established for what you depicted. A 4 Year old and a 45 year old does not involve censorship… That action is actually ILLEGAL. We have some guidlines in place for “censoring”. The public airwaves are what the FCC is in charge of monitoring. What I don’t like is when that starts to cross over into Cable Television. It is a paid service. If I don’t want anything on it.. I simply stop buying it. Control should be in the consumer hands unless it is a public sanction. The FCC is in charge of that. So are the viewers. I believe in free speech… However, I also believe that people need some protection from illegal (nudity = public indecency) things on public tv stations.

Mike Mixer (profile) says:

Re: the real issue

You just hit the nail on the head. We have a definition of what should be considered indecent on the air. Anything that is illegal in the real world should
be regulated on the airwaves. So simple, You really are a pretty fart smeller. Let’s see now, depictions of rape,incest, murder,robbery,police brutality, speeding
yelling at little kids,and kicking dogs should be heavily regulated if not outright banned while images of two or more consenting adults engaging in sexual intercourse in private regardless of gender or proclivity
should be just fine.

JC says:

I fail to see the problem. If someone wants to complain, it should be easy for them to do so. That fact that all they had to do was sign their name to a form is irrelevant- the people wouldn’t have been to that web page in the first place if they weren’t concerned. The only issue is if the same person is using a form to complain about the same item more than once.

Anonymous Coward says:

clear something up?

So, where do we stand on the sex with a 4-year old issue? Granted it’s illegal and the participants should be prosecuted, but should it be censored? Do we censor illegal acts?

It seems the arguement against censorship means that the footage cannot be censored, regardless of what happened to the participants.

Or, do we not allow it to be shown? Censor it, because it’s an illegal act? So, censorship is permissable in certain circumstances? Now we’re back to “who decides those circumstances?” You? Me? George Bush? Howard Stern? Anthony Scalia?

Insaniac says:

Re: clear something up?

Excellent question. It’s good to ask the obvious because so many people take the obvious for granted, which often leads them to use poor logic with oversights and bad conclusions.

But to answer the question….i believe the child pornography laws are going to extend to all media, including television. So that means that ‘we, the people’ decided to censor child pornography through our election of representatives who voted to ban (or censor) such content.

Grow up and says:

Try thinking of others for once

For the nudist:
From the Bible it clearly states that God gave clothes to mankind.
For the minority claim:
100,000 complaints + how many who would of but didn’t complain because they did not see or hear about it (I am one OF MANY WHO DIDN’T)
For all those who think uncensored feeds are OK:
The societies where there is some form of unmitigated access to drinking, gambling, and prostitution have the most problems.
Drinking and drug problems in Europe.
Gambling problems in Atlantic City and Las Vegas, etc.

In the world there are decency laws it is not just a US issue!!!
Decency issues have plagued mankind from all eras of man.
Julius Ceasar made the Roman empire strong by strengthening the family through decency laws!!!
Learn things … search answers … and give some thought … to your opinions and your way of life (a 5 second opinion is worth just that much)…

Brad says:

Re: Try thinking of others for once

Quoting the Bible!? Idiot. Here’s a quote: “if you wear clothing woven of more than one fabric, you shall be put to death.” Right from the Bible.

Quote FACT not OPINION. The bible is not the instrument I want informing public debate. It was written by men and intrepreted by men — and is as much a tool of governance by supposed supernatural authority as anything else.

Family friendly = you wanting someone else to raise your children.

Anonymous Coward says:

A big part of the problem is that sex, nudity, and bodily function are the ONLY types of content that can be fined by the FCC at this point. According to FCC rules, those are the only types of material that can be defined as indecent or obscene.

Those who find other types of material offensive do not have official recourse to complain to the FCC.

Also, some guy filed a FOIA request for indecency complaints after the Superbowl incident, IIRC, and found that not only were there only three discrete complaint letters submitted to the FCC over the incident, but also found that many of them were counted multiple times. So even if you count every instance of a forwarded form letter as a complaint, the number was still grossly overinflated.

Kilroy says:


—FCC fines are a slap on the wrist. The edgier the show, the more ratings. Take away “moral norm” and you have nothing to be rebellious against. Censoring something every now and then is good for shows that thrive on controversy.

—“Be better parents and control your kids”… Good parenting doesn’t involve the micro managing of children. It involves creating and nuturing a positive enviroment for children to grow in as well as teaching them right from wrong. That is exactly what parents are doing by complaining and standing up for their rights to complain. The fact that they use form letters is irrelevant. The complaint is the same. They are good time mangers and are trying to raise their children in accordance to their beleifs.

—No one is burning books. No one is going to jail. George Bush does not run the FCC. Stop citing the argument that getting violence and sex off tv will somehow lead to political oppression, the “slippery slope” is a well known fallacy.

—No one is going to show a 4yr old having sex on tv because the act is illegal and videotaping it is proof of guilt. Even if you fake it, most people would not want to witness it and find it in bad taste.

—Dorphus, keep up the good work. This is a lively thread started by your inflammatory comments. I haven’t had this much fun since the last time you posted.

Dave Cohen (user link) says:

A Look At Indecency Complaints To The FCC

It’s time for the government to back off of TV and radio. This whole thing seems to have started with the Janet Jackson supposed nipple slip, except she was still wearing a tassel. I have 2 young kids 4 and 7, I control what they watch or do not watch, a woman wearing a tassel is ok to me, there is a lot more nudity on TV than that.

If poeple were offended, then that’s understandable, but they too have control over what their children should or should not watch, Not the goverment, it’s not their job.


Anonymous Coward says:

I applaud

I didn’t think that a lot of child molesters would be posting to this thread, so it’s not suprising that everyone here thinks that the networks would shy away from it.

However, we live in the world of cable and satellite, wherein specialty networks appealing to the thinnest and strangest elements of society seem to find purchase, it is possible that some networks might not have the morality that prohibits showing child pornography. And, as I said I understand that it’s illegal to produce it and the makers would be liable for appropriate punishment, but should it permitted to be shown? The couple of posts are along the lines of “the market won’t allow it to be shown” however, the same could be said for “Adult Swim” on the cartoon network, or the Playboy Channel, etc 40 years ago.

So, the question remains, should child pornography be censored from any/every broadcast?

If yes, does that mean any/every illegal act should be censored from broadcast?

Thus begins the slippery slope.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Specialty networks

As noted there are a number of specialty networks that have found an audience. However you also noted that these a cable or satellite channels not broadcast channels and are not regulated by the FCC anyways. I would posit that airing illegal acts would be covered by aiding and abetting clauses and would rapidly find their operators in jail. Material that is merely distateful would not find a very large market and probably would not be able to attract enough advertisers to pay expenses and be a viable station.

Now that those falacies have been addressed either the FCC needs to publish clear guidelines (censorship) or stop trying to be a moral regulator. This is the only way to prevent the chilling effect of forcing broadcasters to guess what will be acceptable or not. Keep in mind that stations will try to distinguish themselves and project a specific image to make themselves attractive to an audience and to advertisers.

Anonymous Coward says:

on the 4yo issue…

we have laws stating that it is illegal to have sex with a child. we also have laws that state it’s illegal to kill someone. however if you watch law and order, or csi, or any action show, you will see someone get murdered. well, should they be arrested for “killing” another person. or do i sound like an idiot because i didn’t realize that’s just a Fictional tv show.

the same can be said about the child sex show. just because the “tv shows” it, doesn’t mean it actually happened. think about it. anime porn has some underage sex in it, and yet there is no laws being broken (but i’m sure japan has sex laws as well) but we all know that it is just a show. and that’s it.

to the bible naked adam and eve:
the last time i read the bible, god created adam and eve in his image, and they were naked. this is shown by the fact when adam ate from the tree of knowlede, he realized he was naked and hid when got came to talk to him. he was embarased and whished to be clothed. so obviously, a&e were naked, and by disobeying god, they realized they needed to be clothed. so we are to be naked.

to the minority issue:
100k is a minority. 1million is a minority, 100 million is still a minority here (our pop is about 300 mill, right? unless my math is off..) the whole “people who didn’t send in” argument is flawed. we have a solid statistic of what people did. the question, is of what percentage is that? there is no hard evidence to say that sampling is xx%, so we must take that statistic at face value, and by that, 100k is a minority.

and to the rest of you:
what is offensive to one may be pleasurable to another. so this issue will be debated for ages, only because we are argumentitive and greedy….

JohnB says:

I want to file a complaint

I want to file a complaint. I want to complain about the religious “fire and brimstone” speeches that these televangelists give to scare their watchers into sending them money and making them rich. Telling someone that they are going to burn for eternity because they don’t hold some arbitrary narrow set of beliefs is certainly more traumatizing than seeing a nipple!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: I want to file a complaint

I want to file a complaint. I want to complain about the religious “fire and brimstone” speeches that these televangelists give to scare their watchers into sending them money and making them rich. Telling someone that they are going to burn for eternity because they don’t hold some arbitrary narrow set of beliefs is certainly more traumatizing than seeing a nipple!

Is that a form of terrorism? Are terrorists on TV?

Anonymous Coward says:

“Another few years and the religious nutbags in this country and their allies at Fox and the GOP will have instilled enough fear and created enough phantom enemies to ruin the country.” – Brad

You are the one creating phantom enemies.

–The GOP has been around for hundreds of years and it hasn’t ruined the country yet.

–The country was founded by religous nutbags, you are ruining their country.

— Fox is a news channel (assuming that you are citing the Democratic propaganda) and you are naive to beleive that somehow Fox news is more biased than any other news source simply because it isn’t biased in your favor.

Anonymous Coward says:

The FCC has every right to control the content of the airways it licenses. If I have a website, I can moderate the content to my heart’s content. If I am an ISP, I can allow/disallow content as well. As many have pointed out, the market will dictate my success.

Non-FCC regulated broadcasts (cable, etc) are free to distribute and censor as they see fit.

#56’s dismissal of broadcasting the 4yo scenario due to aiding and abetting clauses is wrong. Therefore, the arguement still stands. If I’m a billionaire industrialist and get my rocks off broadcasting that kind of trash, should I be permitted to do so on my own cable network?

Instructing the FCC to simply publish clear guidelines is a no-starter. Guidelines issued today might be trumped by the actions of another network tomorrow. It’s like everyone complaining about congress not keeping up with technology in terms of law-making. The laws are deliberately vague in order to allow flexibility in the absence of action.

Sean says:

The problem that I have with the nipple incident is that is was on a program that you would not expect to see something like this. It was akin to watching the national news and the achor flashing everyone. If it is going to get to the point where they allow nudity of any form on television there should be some sort of disclaimer as to the content of the program. And no you can’t tell me rating a program al a movie ratings is censorship. I want to know the type of program that is on and then I can make up my mind as to if it is worth my time to watch it.

Anonymous Coward says:

don’t expcet to see a nipple on the superbowl?

what about all the beer commercials with bikinni girls? what about the adds for erection pills and the sexual suggestive nature of them?

godaddy.com commercial?

remember the underware bowl, or whatever it was a few eyars back?

all sexual. hell, it was almost REQUIRED that you see nudity after all the sexual suggestion.

so, i don’t see how the superbowl is a “family” event when the commercials talk about sex and alcohol. and remember, quite a few, if not the majority, of people watch the superbowl JUST FOR THE COMMERCIALS.

so….there to janet’s nip

Anonymous Coward says:

here’s the thing. if people don’t want to watch sex on tv, why are there such high ratings for shows like desperate houswives and sex & the city?

obviously there are enough people for the stations to keep producing them. if “families” don’t want to wath these shows, why do they have high ratings?

if the need for family programing is in such high demand, why isn’t ABC’s family station a huge seller? we don’t hear about the ratings for shows on there.

so, i guess sex sells. and i’m sure those people claiming that they don’t want “sex smut” shoved down our throats on tv, will sit and watch desperate housewives or what not w/o batting an eyelash.

no one of consequence says:

Re: Re:

Um no,

I don’t want to watch that stuff so I don’t watch TV.


But then I guess I’m one of the few who don’t.

I gave it up because there was too much that was against my personal moral beliefs, and I saw what it was doing to my daughter. And don’t spout that crap about being a real parent and controlling what my daughter watches.

1) I am a single parent
2) I have to work for a living so I am gone most of the day and can not guard the TV
3) I can not afford a new TV with V-Chip or parental controls

So my only option was to cut it out completely since I can not trust what the broadcasters chose to offer us.

Anon says:

Society vs. anarchy

A true society requires there be limits. Limits must exist because otherwise no one can be reasonably assured of another person or group’s conduct. Without that assurance, we can not function as a group, but will descend into splintered incompatible ‘individualities’.

We exist in a society that is quickly becoming schitzophrenic, in that many want there to be no rules or limits, but yet have a reasonable society in which to live.

No limits equals anarchy.

The two can not co-exist.

For those who wish to have no rules or no limits, you are expecting the rest of society to absorb the conflict, friction, and consequences your desire produces. You can not have your cake and eat it too.

One does not have to be a religious “nutbag” in order to appreciate that for our society to remain intact, that some level of responsible, moral, ethical limits must exist.

If you think that our society can survive a successful no limits, no responsibility agenda, think again.

With freedom comes responsibility.
You were granted freedom, now be responsible.

Tek'a says:

wayback machine..

“3) I can not afford a new TV with V-Chip or parental controls”

really? do ya got that new-fangled Color Tv? remote Control? cable input on the back, counts up to at least 90-odd channels without needing a special box? odds are that it has some form of parental control/TV rating limiter/LOCK. and you never even read that on the box on in the manual when ya got it home.

dont blame TV. blame yourself. dont want the kids seeing evil scary things? cut that Cable/Satelite bill And insure that your children are only watching FCC approved mind-deadening content.

(and in a few months of savings, you will have saved enough for a new tv, with a manual your going to read this time!)

you can control what your kids see, to a degree..

but more importantly, you should be controlling how they see the world! (in a positive way) Talk to them every now and then. about morals, about what you feel is wrong and right. about People, and what they do. about how war is a terrible thing. the old birds and the bees talk. encourage Not watching Tv. watch it Together, Talk about the things you see in an inteligent manner!

form-letter writers are zombies, under the beck and call of small minded, Nasty hearted people who feel thay need, no, Deserve the power to control what you see. and do. and think. and feel.

and the FCC has No place censoring Tv. knee-jerk responses to “concerned citizen groups” is putting control the wrong places, while avoiding any Real progress.

Sean says:

War a TERRIBLE thing?

War is not always completely a terrible thing.

War is not a terrible thing when it is done to remove a tyrant for killing tens of thousands of people that disagree with that tyrant.

War is not a terrible thing when you are removing an “elected president” that to make sure he stays in office by having anyone who runs against him killed.

War is not a terrible thing when you are fighting against countries that support terrorism.

edie says:

I recently saw a preview for a new series with Minnie Driver called ‘Riches’. I was so offended when once scene showed her stating that her necklace was “a walmart necklace of x marks the Jew”. I could not believe it. I will never watch that show or whats more go out of my way to see any movies or tv shows with her. Shame on you. There are still holocaust survivors that are alive and watch TV F.Y.I

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