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Seen, But Probably Not Obscene

Reports of a possible FCC investigation into cable’s version of anatomical parts-waving (Monty Python anyone?) have been more about grabbing headlines than dealing in the realities of media content.An FCC spokesman confirms the FCC has received complaints about the 10 seconds worth of cable porn that slipped into a Comcast cablecast of the SuperBowl in Tucson.

It is currently reviewing them, as it does every complaint, said the spokesman, to see if it warrants investigation

He had no comment on the likelihood that it would trigger the next step of contacting the parties, but the likelihood is slim to none.

The standard for broadcasting is indecency, where similar displays of the male anatomy have drawn FCC censure.

But for cable the standard is obscenity, a threshold that is far higher as the perusal of any hotel adult video menu or magazine newstand will attest. For instance, the material that “bled through” to the Super Bowl was apparently from a PPV channel that regularly runs on the cable system.

To be obscene, something has to be prurient, completely devoid of social, scientific, educational or political value and violate community standards.

Most graphic sexual content has not been found to violate that standard and is permissible speech on cable and other pay media.