FCC Gets S-Word Complaints - Broadcasting & Cable

FCC Gets S-Word Complaints

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Looks like the S-word might be the next profanity in the sights of indecency foes.

Attorney John Thompson, whose complaints about Howard Stern helped prompt Clear Channel to banish the jock and the FCC to fine the company almost half a million dollars, says he has faxed a complaint to the FCC about Sunday night's 60 Minutes broadcast, in which singer Mary J. Blige uttered an under-her-breath "sh*t."

The FCC Enforcement Bureau confirms it has recieved more than one complaint about the broadcastAccording to Thomson, he sent the complaint yesterday to FCC Chairman Michael Powell and his senior legal adviser. He did not contact CBS or 60 Minutes and neither had any comment. One CBS spokesperson confirmed the word had aired, though another expressed some doubt.

According to a transcript from the Sunday show, Blige is identified as having said "shoot," though a review of the sound bite suggests that transcription is a stretch. The line was ommitted entirely from the transcript of the show's first airing.

Thompson was alerted by a piece on The Schnitt Show on Clear Channel's WIOD(AM) Miami.
A check of the show's Web site (www.schnittshow.com) provided an audio clip of the Blige expletive underneath this caption: "Mary J. Blige cursing during 60 minutes, will Viacom be nailed by the FCC for this?"
While Clear Channel yanked Stern, saying it was indecent, Viacom did not and Monday asked the FCC to reconsider its decision making swear words actionable regardless of context.

Thompson in his complaint said: "This constitutes a violation of FCC-enforced decency standards, just a surely as does Bono’s use of the word "f**king" on the prime time telecast of the 2003 Golden Globes. "

Thomson pointed out that it was a repeat broadcast, saying CBS had two chances to edit it out and didn't.  The complaint was lodged against CBS-owned WFOR-TV Miami and "all other CBS television stations."

In ruling the F-word indecent in the Bono case, the FCC said other profanities might now be actionable.

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