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FCC: Nip/Tuck Not Obscene

Nip/Tuck won’t be getting in trouble with the FCC. The agency Friday dismissed numerous complaints over the racy black comedy about plastic surgeons and their patients.

A variety of complainants asked the FCC to fine cable network FX on grounds that the show is indecent and/or obscene. The show is a frequent target of criticism from the Parents Television Council, although none of the complaints this time were generated by the group, according to a spokeswoman.

The gist of the FCC complaints focused on characters engaging in simulated sexual intercourse, including oral and anal sex. Some also demanded FCC sanction for graphic depictions of liposuction, rhinoplasty and other plastic surgery procedures.

The FCC said it has no authority to find Nip/Tuck indecent because longstanding court rulings give cable nets greater First Amendment protections than broadcasters.

The FCC also ruled that the scenes in question don’t meet the Supreme Court test for determining whether content is obscene.

The court's three-pronged test is a high bar, holding that for the material to be considered obscene, an average person, applying contemporary community standards, would find the material taken as a whole appeals to “prurient interest.”  The material also must depict sex acts in a patently offensive way and, taken in its entirety, must lack serious literary, artistic, political or scientific merit.

The FCC said that none of the acts described in the complaints are the type of hard core pornography the Supreme Court had in mind. Further, the FCC said there’s no reason to argue that Nip/Tuck appeals to prurient interests or lacks serious social value.