Fox: No to Increased Indecency Sanctions, Yes to F-Word


Fox Thursday joined ABC and NBC in defending the use of the f-word in the "rare" instance when artistic reasons call for it. Otherwise, no.

In her letter to Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), network president Gail Berman did not endorse increased FCC fines or per-utterance fines as did NBC. In its letter to Dingell Thursday, ABC would only say that it would comply with indecency rules regardless of the size of the fine.

Fox alone among the networks (CBS’ letter had not been received at press time) explicitly defended a cautious approach.

"We believe that the FCC has historically followed a cautious approach to indecency enforcement-and for good reason. The FCC’s indecency standard is inherently vague, yet it constitutes a restriction on creative content protected by the core of the First Amendment. Whenever content creators are faced with government interference, particularly if the standard for oversight is vague, there is a serious risk of chilling free speech."

Fox blamed human error for 2003 Billboard Music awards profanities from Nicole Richie that slipped its net, but said it had tightened oversight of live programming, including adding people to monitor and technology to provide redundancy.