ACLU Lashes Out at FCC for NYPD Blue Fine
American Civil Liberties Union: 2003 Episode Aired at 10 p.m., Was Preceded by Warning
By John Eggerton -- Broadcasting & Cable, 1/28/2008 9:50:00 AM
The American Civil Liberties Union, a longtime critic of government regulation of expression, labeled the Federal Communications Commission's latest fine -- for nudity on the long-canceled NYPD Blue -- "paternalism at its worst."
The FCC found that the 2003 broadcast -- which featured a woman's bare behind and a side view of partially covered breasts -- was "apparently indecent," then fined 51 stations a total of $1.4 million, its first proposed indecency fine since March 2006.
“This is just another government attempt to trump our own good judgment and determine what we’re mature enough to see," ACLU counsel James Tucker said in a statement Monday. "NYPD Blue aired well past the bedtime of most children -- at 10 p.m. in most markets. Only those affiliates that aired the program between the hours of 6 p.m.-10 p.m. would be subject to the fine, which just goes to show the fickle nature of the FCC’s rules. By their logic, airing a shot of a bare behind at 10:30 p.m. is fine, but the same shot at 9:30 p.m. is worth millions in fines and penalties."
He continued, “It’s also worth noting that ABC included a warning before NYPD Blue indicating that the program was intended for mature audiences only. Such warnings allow audiences to decide for themselves whether they want to see the content or permit their children to see the content. Instead, the government is stepping in to chill free speech and the free expression of ideas by ‘parenting the parents.’"
I understand the FCC and the PTC's stance. I wouldn't want my child seeing that if they were too young. However, if a parent is concerned about what their child watches, they should be deligent enough to supervise the programs their child watches, and smart enough to know that NYPD blue is not something they probably want their kids watching. That being said, what is the excuse for the parent's whose children did see the program? Where is their responsibility? Either their children saw it, their children did not see but they are riled that it was a possibility. If the former is the case, then they must not care what their children watch because they did not supervise their children. If the latter is true, it seems like a waste of time to complain about hypotheticals.
Stephen M Absalom - 2/4/2008 12:41:00 PM EST
This kind of arbitrary paternalism on the part of the FCC is abominable. To determine that adults will be "harmed" by bare buttocks is patently insulting, especially to the type of audience that watched "NYPD Blue." Ever since the Janet Jackson episode the federal government has been attempting to roll back the clock to the 1960s and it's well past time for them to stop it. Imposing these large fines for relatively innocuous occurrences is outlandish and archaic. This is why there are codes on TV shows and pre-show warnings. Stop trying to sanitize television for me.
Geoffrey Hammill - 1/30/2008 10:26:00 AM EST
Maybe it's time for the broadcast nets to start prime at 8PM in all time zones. Then incidents like this become a non-issue.
M. Kaufman - 1/29/2008 8:48:00 AM EST
Typical FCC or the government trying to reap where they do not sow! What is the need of FCC requirement of both the warnings ahead of the show and show ratings? - both clearly indicated that the show is for matured audience, and viewers were warned to send their children to their bedrooms. Broadcasters products should not be used as baby-sitter element. Parenting is a guided profession and it si not done by T.V. sets
FRANCIS FASUYI - 1/28/2008 4:58:00 PM EST
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