Safely In the Harbor


Time for indecency 101 primer.

I was reading some of the coverage of the f-bomb dropped, obviously accidentally, on Saturday Night Live.

You can’t say it wasn’t foreseeable, since the script for cast newbie Jenny Slate was filled with “frickin’s.”

Even a more seasoned not-ready-for-time-player might have had trouble keeping to the script.

One Web site asked portentiously: “So once again, we ask…will the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) be forgiving or fine NBC for the apparent mistake?

Easy answer. No. First, except as a station owner, NBC would not be fined anyway. It is the station, not the network, that is in FCC crosshairs.

But more importantly, as some coverage rightly pointed out, since the broadcast was well past 10 p.m., it was within the FCC’s safe harbor and perfectly acceptable to the government.

Broadcasters can air cursing and nudity and even the same sort of graphic sex you can see on your local hotel room TV between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. They don’t because they choose not to. There is the occasional slip, but that is like a drop of black paint in a vat of white.

While sex media is big business, broadcasters, even in the worst economy in virtually all of our lifetimes, did not rush out to convert their late night airwaves to a blue medium with plenty of green upside.

Something to think about when broadcasters are taking their hits from content crusaders.