The FCC is looking to relax rules that prohibit broadcasters from airing indecent material, it was announced.
A public notice posted on the regulatory agency’s website
Monday said the Federal Communications Commission is launching a review which may end up scrapping the ban on expletives and certain displays of nudity on television, regardless of public complaints.
The notice asked for public comment on its plan.
Retiring FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski kicked off a review after the Supreme Court overturned two indecency fines last year. The agency said it wanted to ensure that “indecency policies and their enforcement are fully consistent with vital First Amendment principles.”
At stake is whether the commission should waive the ban on isolated expletives and nonsexual nudity, focusing instead on enforcing the most extreme cases such as deliberate and repetitive use of expletives.
The changes could trigger a new attitude of permissiveness toward swearing and nudity on television.
In 2002, singer Cher used the F-word during the Billboard Music Awards, while reality TV star Nicole Richie used two different expletives on the same show in 2003.
U2 lead singer Bono was also guilty of dropping the F-bomb during a Golden Globes acceptance speech. And in 2004 Janet Jackson’
s infamous “wardrobe malfunction” gave a shot of nudity during the Super Bowl.
Meanwhile, brief glimpses of nudity on mainstream television programs could also be overlooked.
In recent years, the Supreme Court has come down against FCC fines on these high profile cases, but that hasn’
t stemmed the tide of public outrage against offensive displays on television.
During the Super Bowl halftime show last year, singer M.I.A. flipped off millions of viewers during a performance of Madonna’s new single, “Give Me All Your Luvin.” The incident prompted 222 complaints.
“We have certainly come a long way since ‘Gone With the Wind’ was almost scrapped because Clark Gable said the word Damn,” a parent wrote after the incident. He added, “We had to have an emergencee [sic] family meeting to contain the backlash of the lewd image.”
The FCC said it has reduced the backlog of indecency complaints by 70 percent, down by more than 1 million, since last September by eliminating complaints that were beyond the statute of limitations or were “too stale to pursue.”
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