FCC: Indecency/Obscenity Complaints Soar From Q4

First-quarter complaints to the FCC in all categories increased by 246% over fourth-quarter 2008 to 245,241, the FCC said Tuesday, but that was driven by a whopping increase in indecency complaints in March.

Indecency complaints, which had been averaging a few hundred in January and February 2009, soared to 179,997 in March, or more than two thirds of all radio and TV complaints. The FCC does not publicize the complaints, but Parents Television Council filed an indecency complaint over a March 8 episode of Family Guy it took issue with.

There were relatively few DTV-related complaints (170), even as the clock was winding down on analog broadcasts. But there were a ton of inquiries, with 119,890 over the same three-month period--or 55% of all radio and TV inquiries.

Cable and satellite complaints increased 96% from 4Q 2008, but still only totaled 4,114. Program issue complaints about cable also jumped in March, from the low hundreds to 2,009. It was not clear why.

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.