Once again, it’s Labor Day to the rescue.
The FCC has given CBS until Sept. 14 to respond to questions on what the CBS-owned KUTV Salt Lake City has done since being notified that its airing of an episode of Without a Trace was ruled indecent. The network had promised in a consent decree to ensure that the station take remedial steps—by Aug. 31, 2007—if the commission fined it for indecency.
The extension comes on the heels of the Supreme Court's decision to grant the solicitor general, and by extension the FCC, another month to decide whether to appeal the Second Circuit Court of Appeals decision that the FCC had not justified its cussing crackdown. That deadline had been Sept. 2.
B&C had reported that the KUTV deadline had already been moved from around the Fourth of July holiday to August 10, before apparently being extended again to Aug. 31.
In a letter to CBS attorneys Thursday, the FCC said it was granting the petition "sua sponte," which means without CBS asking for it.
The Parents Television Council has challenged KUTV's license after CBS' December 2004 airing of the Trace episode, which contained a teen orgy scene.
It was a repeat of a show PTC had complained about earlier, one of many that were sponged away when CBS’ then-parent Viacom settled all but the Janet Jackson Super Bowl complaint in a consent decree. The episode aired only weeks after the consent decree had been signed, angering the PTC all the more.
As part of the consent decree, CBS agreed to take certain, specific remedial actions if the FCC issued a proposed indecency fine. The FCC did so, in response to PTC’s complaint, and now wants to know if CBS has made good on its agreement.
CBS has said it didn’t violate the terms of the November 2004 agreement and will make that clear in its response.