Major TV Networks Sue Government for Indecency Crackdown

By Gudrun Schultz

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 18, 2006 ( – Four major television networks have filed lawsuits against the Federal Communications Commission’s recent rulings on the use of profanity and sexually explicit material during prime time viewing.

Fox, CBS, NBC and ABC networks have filed two joint appeals against fines imposed by the FCC on a total of 123 stations for airing, among other concerns, a scene depicting group sex among teenagers.

Concerned Women for America issued a press release today expressing their outrage over what they call “frivolous lawsuits” that are “out of touch with American families.”

“All four broadcast networks last week announced their decision to continue their assault on the FCC’s authority to regulate the airwaves against profanity and sexual content,” said Lanier Swann, CWA’s Director of Government Relations. “The action illustrates how out of touch television moguls are with American families.”
“75 percent of Americans believe the FCC should, in fact, have more ability to regulate our television content. The networks choose to ignore and abuse the millions of Americans who want the ability to turn on their televisions without fear that they and their children will be confronted with what the industry claims is merely ‘fleeting, isolated—and in some cases unintentional’ vulgarity and overt sexual conduct. This is a bold-faced attempt by the networks to have free reign to say they [sic] whatever they please.”
“We fully support Chairman Kevin Martin’s bold stand against the type of trash today’s networks define as quality entertainment. We encourage the FCC to continue to hold networks accountable for the programming that violates federal decency regulations, and to enforce tougher indecency fines.”
  The FCC has proposed a $3.3 million fine against 103 stations for airing the scene depicting teenage group sex, and fines of $550,000 against 20 CBS stations for Janet Jackson’s breast-bearing episode during the Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show.

In response to the networks’ appeal, FCC spokeswoman Tamara Lipper said, “n its recent order the Commission again rejected CBS’s argument that the broadcast of the …halftime show was not indecent. That argument runs counter to Commission precedent and common sense. The Commission however, will review any request for reconsideration.”

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