Kristen Fyfe

The TV networks are acting like a bunch of spoiled two-year-olds.  They do NOT like broadcast decency regulations.  They do NOT like the fact that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has become more serious about enforcing decency standards. And they are throwing corporate temper tantrums.

The toddlers running Fox are refusing to pay a $91,000 fine imposed on them by the FCC for a 2003 episode of the reality show Married by America which included images of contestants licking whipped cream off strippers, a man on all fours in his underwear being spanked by two strippers, and other people being lured into sexually compromising situations.  The FCC ruled that the images were sexually suggestive and indecent.  Fox says they were not “statutorily indecent but rather …integral to the storyline,” according to a report in Variety.

Keep in mind that $91,000 is chicken feed to Fox, probably less than the weekly catering tab.  Fox’s refusal to pay the fine is not about the money, but rather, as Variety reported, about “vigorously challenging FCC indecency rulings.”

NBC meanwhile is taking a tack more reminiscent of the toddler who has been told not to touch the hot stove but decides to put his hand as closetotheflameaspossible before getting burned.  Washington Post TV columnist Lisa de Moraes reported that NBC’s popular comedy 30 Rock is planning an April 10 episode that will be all about the f-word. 

Moraes, who is no fan of broadcast decency regulation, wrote:

“…those innovators at NBC 2.0 have come up with what appears to be the practically perfect FCC-fine-proof sitcom episode, in which the bad word most favored by Hollywood celebrities is referenced repeatedly.

On the April 10 episode of 30 Rock, the staff of the late-night show "TGS" has become obsessed with a new reality hit called "MIL[letter that's been deemed too naughty for The Washington Post when it follows M, I and L] Island."

For the uninitiated: MIL[WaPo Scarlet Letter] stands for Mothers I'd Like to [have sex with].


Kristen Fyfe

Kristen Fyfe is senior writer at the Culture and Media Institute, a division of the Media Research Center.

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