The Federal Communications Commission Thursday launched an investigation of
indecency complaints against Infinity Broadcasting Corp.'s WNEW(FM) for coverage
of a couple allegedly having sex in St. Patrick's Cathedral.
The commission also hinted that the agency may expand the inquiry to other stations owned by the
Shortly after the commission launched its review, the company fired shock
DJs Opie and Anthony and canceled their show.
The pair was pulled off WNEW(FM) Aug. 16 and reruns of their Opie and Anthony show have aired
FCC chairman Michael Powell ordered the agency's Enforcement Bureau to
investigate complaints filed by the Catholic League and others. The Catholic
League is demanding that the feds revoke Infinity's license for WNEW.
The incident created a media ruckus in the Big Apple, as well as on national
television talk shows. The FCC has received hundreds of electronic-mailed complaints,
most from individuals who have heard or read press accounts of the
WNEW owner Infinity apologized and tried its best to control the damage.
"WNEW and Infinity Broadcasting do not in any way condone the actions that took
place last week," the company said in a prepared statement. "We have taken steps
to ensure that this type of incident does not happen again."
The FCC's inquiry and any possible sanctions may not be limited to just one
broadcast or one station. In a letter to Infinity Thursday, the FCC ordered the
station to identify other stations that aired the Opie and Anthony broadcast
and to state whether similar broadcasts were aired previously.
The couple's act was allegedly part of a contest in which
six couples were given a list of 54 different high-risk locations at which to
have sex in New York. The couple and show producer Paul Mercurio were
arrested when a church security guard interrupted the couple and Mercurio's
"Reporting sexual intercourse live on the air in a very busy Catholic
cathedral more than satisfies your requirement that an incident appeals to the
prurient interest," the Catholic League said in its complaint.
Infinity must reply to the FCC's inquiry by Sept. 11.
Opie and Anthony -- whose real names are Greg Hughes and Anthony Cumia -- were responsible for three previous broadcasts that brought $21,000 in FCC fines against WNEW. The broadcasts made graphic references to incest and sex with underage girls. One featured a song that portrayed a conversation between a man and his young daughter as she purportedly performed oral sex on him.
In another, the hosts persuade a 17-year-old caller to rub the telephone against her pubic hair so they could guess what type of pubic haircut she had.
The third featured a song in which a man declares he's "horny for little girls" between ages two and three, liked the girls' "round butts" and "liked to ram them."