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PTC Challenges KUTV License - Broadcasting & Cable

PTC Challenges KUTV License

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The Utah chapter of the Parents Television Council has filed a petition with the FCC to deny the license of CBS-owned KUTV Salt Lake City.

Its offense? Airing an episode of Without a Trace featuring a "teen orgy party." The FCC has already proposed fining the station and others for airing the show--the total fine runs into the millions--but PTC points out that the FCC is fighting indecency fines, specifically the Janet Jackson Super Bowl incident that PTC members complained about as well.

CBS stations are also fighting the Trace fine. In June, CBS affiliates asked the FCC to rescind the fine, arguing, among other things, that there were "no true complaints from actual viewers following the [December 2004] broadcast"--they instead say the complaints came after the complainants saw a clip on the Internet. The stations also argue that the complaints were not filed from the markets where the stations aired the show.

"Broadcasters are accountable to the community they serve and must follow the law to use the public airwaves," said Bozell in a statement announcing the license challenge. "It’s clear that in this case, one community feels that the owner of this station – CBS – has violated the terms of its broadcast license," he said.

CBS responded in a statement: "As CBS has made clear in previous FCC filings, we don't believe anything in this episode of an award-winning series, on a socially important theme, was indecent. That's why we're vigorously contesting a preliminary FCC decision proposing that CBS be fined for airing it.
"In any event, that proceeding is the proper forum for determining whether the FCC's indecency rules can properly be extended to the airing of a sequence lasting less than a minute in a respected dramatic program, which involved no nudity or graphic simulated sexual behavior. 
"We're confident the Commission will agree it doesn't bear on CBS's qualifications as an FCC licensee, or KUTV's record of service to its community. "

The choice of KUTV is twofold at least. It is a CBS-owned station and CBS, points out PTC, continues to challenge indecency rulings, and it is in Utah, where the espisode’s airing is ‘probably more demonstrably in violation of community standards," says PTC spokesman Dan Issett.

In annoucing the move, PTC pointed out that "26 local governments from all over Utah have passed resolutions calling on their citizens and businesses, and all public and private institutions, to adopt family-friendly and child-appropriate standards."

It is the first PTC market challenge in several months.

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