FCC Extends Deadline for Comment on Indecency Regime Change

The FCC has again extended its deadline for final comment on its indecency enforcement regime, this time from July 18 to Aug. 2.

It released the date change Friday, saying it was in response to a petition from College Broadcasters Inc.

That group, which represents college TV and radio stations, had asked for the extra 15 days, saying it needed the time given the "scope and complexity" of the notice given and its potential impact on "their limited budgets, the nature of their staffing and potential for their parent institution holding the license to sell or abandon a license due to an indecency complaint."

The FCC adopted an "egregious cases only" enforcement standard last fall under then-chairman Julius Genachowski as a way to work through a million-plus complaint backlog. In April, it put out a notice seeking comment on whether that, or some other approach, should be adopted as standard operating procedure going forward.

In May, the FCC extended the comment deadline to June 18 in response to a request for extension from the National Association of Broadcasters.

Many broadcasters have already weighed in initial comments that made it clear they think the FCC should either adopt the "egregious" policy or otherwise ramp down its enforcement given that broadcast is no longer uniquely pervasive. They expressed doubt that the FCC could craft a new policy that would square with the First Amendment.

Morality in Media, which has been pushing the FCC to crack down on indecency, was not pleased. "Why is it necessary to keep moving the goal posts?" the group asked in response to the decision. "First, the FCC extended the time for comments by a month. Now they extended the time to reply to those initial comments until August 2. The message from the 100,000 Americans who commented is simple: less indecency, less profanity, and more FCC enforcement for network TV and radio."

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.