WASHINGTON D.C. (FR) – The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ruled in November that radio and TV stations can broadcast indecent programming between midnight and 6 a.m. without facing government sanctions. The commission said that at other times indecent programming can not be broadcast because of the “risk that children may be in the audience.”
This ruling nullifies a federal law (Section 1465 of Federal Laws, Chapter 71 – Title 18), which says, “Whoever utters any obscene, indecent, or profane language by means of radio communication shall be fined not more than $10,000 or imprisoned not more than two years or both,” said Donald Wildmon, president of the National Federation for Decency. “The FCC usurped the power of Congress and the President and said that it would allow indecent programming between the hours of 12 midnight and 6 am.’”
“The FCC in effect voided the law, acting on their own, without the law being changed through the proper channels of government,” he added.
“The FCC has sent a message to broadcasters: ‘You are free to do as you please between the hours of 12 midnight and 6 am.”
Indecent material would include such publications as Hustler, Penthouse, Playboy, Swank, and similar “softcore” pornographic magazines and material currently being shown on the Playboy Channel and by Holiday Inns on their pornographic satellite channel. The commission’s ruling was a clarification of an earlier decision dealing with “material that depicts or describes, in terms patently offensive as measured by contemporary community standards for the broadcast medium, sexual or excretory activities or organs.”
The ruling does not affect obscenity, which continues to be banned from broadcast at all times. However, difficulties in defining obscenity have rendered the nation’s obscenity laws all but useless.
Paul J. McGeady, general counsel of Morality in Media, complained that the FCC’s ruling will “push the pig into the parlors of millions of American homes after midnight,” and argued that the FCC was wrong to allow indecent programming because broadcasting legislation passed by Congress “prohibits obscene and indecent broadcasting, and it has no window – it applies 24 hours a day.”
Peggy Charren, of Action for Children’s Television, said the new ruling still misses the point, and argued, “The problem with censorship is that one person’s dirty word is another person’s satire.” Charren said laws against obscenity are sufficient to protect the airwaves. According to a CBS survey, more then one million children under twelve were still up after midnight.
To protest the ruling, write:
Dennis R. Patrick, Director
Federal Communications Commission
1919 “M” St. N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20554