FCC Gets Complaints Over Alleged Trump Profanity Reporting

An FCC spokesperson confirmed that a handful of indecency complaints have been registered with the FCC over the alleged "shithole" comment by President Donald Trump that some broadcasters were repeating verbatim (there was no audio or video) in their news coverage.

The term is among those FCC indecency regs disallow on broadcast TV--there are no cable indecency rules--between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.

Generally, content that would be actionable in entertainment programming does not generate the same FCC attention when it is an integral part of a news broadcast, but the spokesperson said there is no explicit carveout news.

As to whether the FCC would take any action in this case, the spokesperson said the FCC takes context into account, but had no further guidance.

The FCC defines profanity as "grossly offensive language that is considered a public nuisance," but adds that mitigating factors include "the specific nature of the content, the time of day it was broadcast and the context in which the broadcast took place." 

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.