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NBC Stations Call Bono Decision 'Intolerable'

NBC-affiliated stations are adding their voices to the growing opposition to the Federal Communications Commission's indecency crackdown.

The network's affiliate group plans to tell the FCC in a filing today that the result of its decision to find the Bono F-word indecent regardless of context or of its "fleeting or isolated" nature, will be self-censorship that is "harsh" and "intolerable." The decision, said the stations, "cannot be allowed to stand."

The group was filing in support of an earlier petition by the NBC network, which also challenging the ruling. Singer Bono let the F-word slip during an NBC broadcast of the Golden Globe awards.

The NBC stations' comments follow by a day those of CBS stations and noncommercial stations, which are also taking issue with the Bono ruling and warn of dire consequences to news, documentaries, cultural programs, and more.

That FCC ruling that singer Bono's fleeting, isolated and nonsexual use of  the F-word on the Golden Globes broadcast was indecent essentially reverses years of precedent by removing that context as a mitigating factor.

The NBC stations echoed the warnings of CBS affiliates that if the FCC decision stands, "local broadcasters reasonably may question whether live local news outside of the safe harbor is feasible under the commission's new indecency policies."

Both affiliate groups are concerned about having to possibly put "live" news on a delay and the expense and production headaches that would entail.

More specifically, the NBC stations asked the FCC to reconsider its ruling against them and the network in the Bono case, which included no fine but did include a finding of an indecency violation. The stations argue that since the policy is new, to hold the stations in violation is an improper retroactive application of the "just-announced standard."

It is unclear whether that FCC violation finding will count as a first strike if the Congress passes a "three strikes and your license is in jeopardy" indecency bill.