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PTC Asks FCC to Rescind Profanity Reversal

The Parents Television Counsel has asked the FCC to rescind its decision to overturn two profanity rulings, which says it will look into PTC's charge of missing complaints.

The reversal was part of a review of four profanity decisions--two were reconfirmed--that were released last March and challenged by broadcasters in court."It's a mixed bag. We're pleased the FCC is sticking to its guns on two rulings, but there are problems with the other two dismissals," said PTC's Dan Isett.

PTC says that the FCC created an arbitrary news exemption "where none existed before," in its decision that profanity on CBS' The Early Show was not indecent, and that it "ignored" 96 indecency complaints against swearing on NYPD Blue. The FCC rescinded its profanity finding against that show citing procedural problems, specifically that the complaint against the station was not from a market where it would have aired before the 10 p.m. safe harbor for indecency.

PTC said it sent the FCC copies of 96 complaints from 28 states. An FCC official, who asked not to be identified, said: "We're not aware of other complaints, but we will look at the material provided to us." On the news exemption:, the official said "The order states that there is no news exemption, but that in this instance we deferred to CBS' characterization of their programming as news."

Democratic FCC Commissioner shares PTC's concern with that exemption. He dissented from the FCC decision in part, saying the commission had created an "infotainment" exemption of sorts given that the CBS show segment in question featured a contestant on its Survivor reality series.“The FCC’s ruling about the indecent language on CBS Early Show is troubling," said PTC President Brent Bozell. "The Commission has arbitrarily created a ‘news exemption for indecency where none existed before. In this case The Early Show carried an interview with a cast member promoting another CBS program, and that is considered a ‘news’event? This creates a loophole big enough to drive a truck through."

There is no news exemption, though there is a higher indecency bar for news than for entertainment programming.

“The FCC rightly held that Fox broadcasts of the 2002 and 2003 Billboard Music Awards programs were indecent," said Bozell. "However, we are disappointed that two other previous rulings on obscene language were tossed aside.”

The PTC made its pitch in a letter to the FCC Wednesday.