Copps: FCC Not Asleep at Indecency Switch

Federal Communications Commission Member Defends $1.4M Fine vs. ABC Stations for Indecent Clip from NYPD Blue

Federal Communications Commission member Michael Copps said he reviewed the NYPD Blue clip that drew a $1.4 million fine last week and concluded that it was indecent.

Asked what broadcasters’ takeaway from that proposed fine should be, Copps said, "The FCC is not asleep at the switch on this issue and we remain alive to our statutory responsibilities to be responsive to complaints." He added that the FCC's continuing concern was reflected in the unanimous judgment of the commissioners on the item.

ABC was fined for airing an episode that included a shot of a woman’s naked back and obscured side and front views (strategically placed hands).

Asked about criticisms by the American Civil Liberties Union that it didn't make much sense to say that something that is OK on TV at 10:30 p.m. (within the FCC's safe harbor for indecency) is not OK at 9:30 p.m., Copps said it seemed reasonable to him. "You have to draw the line somewhere," he added.

Copps said he didn't see it as the beginning of the opening of a floodgate, adding that a number of complaints remain, but he didn't think there was anything "circulating up here right now," although he said if something did come up, he would get to it "as quickly as I can."