AFA Says It Generated Spike in Indecency Complaints

Mississippi-based watchdog group ramps up complaints after March ‘Family Guy' episode

The Parents Television Council has gotten most of the indecency complaint press in the last few years thanks to its full court blitz on the Janet Jackson incident. That led to speculation that it was behind the huge bump in FCC indecency complaints in March, too. It wasn't.

Turns out it was not PTC but American Family Association, the Mississippi-based watchdog group that ramped up its indecency-complaint profile a few years ago.

The FCC doesn't comment on its complaints or who has filed them, but the number of new indecency complaints, which had been averaging a few hundred in January and February 2009, soared to 179,997 in March.

According to AFA President Tim Wildmon, the group sent out an e-mail to 3 million people about the March 8 episode of Family Guy that featured an orgy and bestiality. "We can confirm 160,071 complaints to the FCC," he said, "we're just waiting to see what they say."

PTC also solicited online complaints about the episode. But, according to a PTC spokesperson, the group only generated a little over 7,000 complaints on its Web site.

Members of both organizations may have a bit of a wait. While FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell pointed out last week to Congress that there were more than 1.3 million indecency complaints "ossifying" at the commission, "some older than my children," three court decisions relating to indecency await either a decision, or more briefs, and perhaps even new oral arguments.

It has been that legal uncertainty that essentially tied the FCC's hands, though as a general principle new Chairman Julius Genachowski has given his bureau chiefs marching orders to work through backlogs wherever they can be cleared up.