FCC chairman Ajit Pai has told a member of the House that the agency is generally not in the business of dictating what viewers can and can't see.
Pai was responding to a letter from Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.), who was concerned about a TV show, La Comay, airing on Mega TV in Puerto Rico and containing what she called "a pattern of xenophobic and racist remarks."
Velázquez said the show was making direct attacks on the immigrant community and racist remarks and asked the FCC to "review the practices employed by this television show," adding: "I believe the FCC must ensure that any programs requiring FCC licenses do not unfairly target minorities or any protected classes under the law."
The show has drawn criticism before and there are renewed calls for its cancellation.
Pai responded that, under the protections of the First Amendment and Section 326 of the Communications Act, and with the exception in limited circumstance related obscene, indecent, or profane programming, broadcasters have “discretion to determine what content to air on their stations, even if that programming could be objectionable to some viewers.”
He said that means that the FCC is “generally prohibited from censoring content or dictating to licensees what the stations can or cannot air.”
Pai pointed out that viewers can reach out to the station or licensee directly with their issues.
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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.