Federal Communications Commission chairman Michael Powell said the commission has received over half a million complaints about the Super Bowl halftime show to date. That compares to 111 indecency complaints received in all of 2000.
Overall, the new millennium has seen a dramatic increase in complaints, with 346 in 2001, 13,922 in 2002 and 240,350 in 2003, with almost all of those complaining about the same handful of shows.
In fact, for 2003, well over half of all complaints came through the Web site of one group, Brent Bozell’s Parent’s Television Council.
Over that same four-year period, the FCC has issued 26 notices of apparent liability (NAL) and levied 13 fines, though it points out that some had already paid up at the NAL stage.
Powell sent those figures in a letter to Congressman John Dingell answering a host of questions about indecency enforcement.
The FCC has had some trouble handling the flood of e-mails over that past four months, said Powell. In one instance, he said, the problem was with the sender’s network. In others, the sheer volume of e-mails crashed the systems.
Powell says a new system capable of better handling high-volume e-mailings has been in place since Feb. 25. He also said that the commission was working on a system to inform complainants when their e-mail has been received. He hoped to have that in place by the end of the year.