PTC Cites Indecency-Free 12 Months on Broadcast

Parents Television Council President Tim Winter says that in the 12 months since the FCC came out with its first indecency enforcement action in several years (, his group, even with all its monitoring, "has not seen content we felt violated the indecency law."

That came in a press conference about PTC's call for an overhaul of the TV ratings system. PTC has not been shy about filing indecency complaints, including those that prompted the FCC to boost indecency enforcement following the Janet Jackson/Justin Timblerlake Super Bowl halftime wardrobe malfunction.

Winter said he had talked with a Senate staffer about revamping the TV ratings, a campaign PTC launched this week ( and they had wondered if that would mean the FCC would no longer have to enforce indecency standards.

Winter said absolutely not, and that it was a "both/and" situation.

He said there was a difference between indecency programming, and programming PTC thought had been misrated. He likened it on looking at a nutritional label. "You obviously don't want to eat anything that's toxic, but [with all foods] you want to make sure you know what you're ingesting."

Winter said that even though there was intense pressure for broadcasting to come up with its own Game of Thrones, he thinks the reality is that broadcast standards have been mindful of that indecency decision, which he called "a good thing."

In March 2015, the FCC proposed a maximum $325,000 fine against WDBJ Roanoke for airing sexually explicit images.

At the time FCC Enforcement Bureau Chief Travis LeBlanc said the proposed fine "sends a clear signal that there are severe consequences for TV stations that air sexually explicit images when children are likely to be watching."

Stations, not networks, are liable for indecency violations.

John Eggerton

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.