FCC Finds, Corrects Indecency Undercount


If the FCC were a publicly held company and indecency complaints were the equivalent of earnings, the news that the commission underreported the number of complaints in the first quarter—by half—would be cause for jubilation.

Alas, the only ones celebrating the fact that the FCC initially missed some 133,000 of the 275,131 complaints received through March 31 are the usual suspects at the American Family Association (AFA) and the Parents Television Council (PTC).

The indecency watchdogs, whose e-mail factories account for hundreds of thousands of complaints alone, routinely bash the FCC for underreporting the outrage at offensive TV content. But neither had anything to do with the recent correction.

Both say they didn’t contact the commission, even though the AFA claims it funneled more than 334,000 individual complaints in the quarter. (And given that each e-mailed complaint generated copies for each commissioner, the actual e-mail tally is in excess of
1.5 million.)

If you must know, the AFA’s minions were exercised over an s-word uttered during Fox’s March 27 NASCAR broadcast (168,000 complaints—
cha-ching!) and a strip-club scene in the Feb. 6 airing of NBC’s Las Vegas (165,933—bada-bing!) As it turns out, the FCC discovered the "accounting discrepancy" on its own.

Spokesman David Fiske says, "We are now correcting it because we want to make every effort to make sure that these counts are accurate."

We couldn’t agree more.