NBC Faces 'S-Word' Complaint

The Parents Television Council said NBC has pulled another Bono.

The group is likely to lodge an FCC indecency complaint against NBC by the end of the week over Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s S-word, according to a PTC spokeswoman. "NASCAR has a huge family audience, including a bunch of kids watching," says Laura Mahaney, director of external affairs. "I don't know why they haven't caught on yet that they need some kind of tape delay."

Earnhardt took the checkered flag in the EA Sports 500 at Talladega, a race that aired on NBC Oct. 3, then let slip a four-letter word--"this don't mean s--t"--in an interview in which he was suggesting his win paled in comparison to those of his late father.

Bill Weber, play-by-play commentator, immediately said: "Certainly, our apologies for his enthusiastic language." PTC is out for more than apologies when it comes to language.

Last week, PTC filed a complaint over an F-word in CBS' Big Brother, which has grown to 23,000 complaints from PTC members in the interim, according to PTC. It was a PTC complaint that led to the FCC's decision to reverse itself on the Bono decision and hold that the F-word, even as an adjective, was actionable. In that same decision, the FCC made clear that swearing as well as stripping, would now be squarely in its sites.

It was also hundreds of thousands of PTC complaints that helped convince the FCC that CBS should be fined over the Janet Jackson reveal.

NASCAR has fined Earnhardt and, more importantly, deducted points, taking him out of the lead for the season championship with only a handful of races left.

NBC had no comment on PTC's likely complaint, since it hasn't yet been filed, and is keeping its next move, if any, on the S-word 'event' close to the vest.

After getting beaten up by Congress over Jackson and Bono earlier this year, NBC and other networks added delays to all their live awards shows. Tape delays on sports are more problematic, though the NFL has at least considered it, NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue told B&C in the wake of the Jackson debacle.

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.