ABC Pays NYPD Blue Fine, Appeals Decision in Federal Court

Network Pays $1,237,500 in Fines for Its Two Owned Stations, 43 Other Affiliates Cited 2/21/2008 09:40:00 AM Eastern

ABC appealed the Federal Communications Commission's proposed $1 million-plus NYPD Blue fine to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit -- the same court that said the FCC's fleeting profanity policy was arbitrary and capricious. But first it paid $1,237,500 in fines for its two owned stations and the 43 other affiliates cited.


ABC said it needed to pay before it could appeal the decision to the court.

The FCC issued its forfeiture order earlier this week for a 2003 airing of a naked behind in NYPD Blue and gave the stations until Thursday to pay the fine.

The commission initially proposed fining 52 stations, but it took back the fines against seven of them because the statute of limitations expired on two of them and complaints against the other five had not come from someone in their markets.

"ABC today filed an appeal in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit challenging an order by the Federal Communications Commission, which found that a 2003 episode of the award-winning drama NYPD Blue violated the FCC’s indecency rules," the network said in a statement announcing the move.

"ABC contends that the FCC order is arbitrary and capricious, contrary to the commission’s own standards and past decisions and in violation of the indecency statute and the First Amendment,” ABC added. “In its order, issued Tuesday, the commission assessed a total of $1,237,500 in fines against 45 stations that carried the program, including two ABC-owned stations (WLS Chicago and KTRK Houston) and 43 other ABC affiliates.”

The company concluded, "While strongly opposed to the fines, ABC today paid them in their entirety in order the make the FCC decision appealable. The ABC Television Affiliates Association also opposed the FCC’s NYPD Blue indecency decision and says it intends to support ABC’s appeal."

The FCC is fighting a court battle on at least three indecency fronts. It is also pushing the Supreme Court to review the Second Circuit's smackdown of its profanity decision against Fox and awaiting a Third Circuit decision on CBS' appeal of the Janet Jackson fine.