NBC has asked the Federal Communications Commission to reject the Parent's Television Council's petition to deny the license renewal of its WRC-TV Washington, D.C., arguing that that the station's record of service to the community should not be trumped by "a series of unadjudicated (or dismissed) allegations that certain dialogue within a few of the station's programs was actionably indecent."
PTC took the unusual step against WRC-TV and Fox's WTTG, also Washington, to try to get the FCC to act on outstanding indecency complaints it had filed against both stations (16 against WRC, including for a Saturday Night Live salute that it said made light of Pedophilia).
"In order to meet public interest requirements, we demand that the FCC not rubber stamp WRC and WTTG's broadcast license renewal without ruling on the PTC's pending complaints," said PTC President Brent Bozell in the complaint filed in early September.
NBC argues that it was unaware of "virtually all" of the referenced complaints, and takes that lack of FCC notification as evidence that none made a prima facie case for indecency, "never mind any sort of claim sufficient to raise a material and substantial question as to the station's extensive and outstanding record of broadcasting in the public interest."
The one exception is the Bono Golden Globes F-word, which the FCC did find indecent, but said could not be used against NBC stations at license renewal time because that ruling was a change in policy.
On a broader point, says NBC, "a single individual should not be able to deny millions of satisfied viewers a continuation of the station's long-standing and exemplary service because of that person's complaints about a handful of episodes during more than a half-decade of television programming.
Among that service NBC sites helping lead the transition to digital TV (WRC-DT is also part of the challenge), EEO community outreach, local news and other locally produced programming, educational kids shows, PSAs and top-quality entertainment.
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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.