CBS Hit with F-Word Complaint

It's been a tough week for CBS. First the Rather apology, then the Jackson fine, now the Parents Television Council has filed an indecency complaint at the FCC against the network over what it said was an "audible F-word" in a Sept. 17 broadcast of Big Brother.

"At a time when CBS affiliates have been handed a record fine of $550,000 by the FCC, one would think CBS would acknowledge the law and abide by it," said the group. CBS declined comment.

NBC got a dressing-down, but no fine, from the FCC earlier this year, for Bono's use of the F-word on a Golden Globe broadcast. It was a reversal from an earlier finding that the F-word was not indecent as an adjective. Since that reversal, however, broadcasters have been on notice that profanity, regardless of the part of speech, is in the regulatory crosshairs.

PTC has begun going after station licenses for indecency complaints it feels the FCC has been too slow to address. The same applies here, said a PTC spokeswoman.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.