The Federal Communications Commission last Tuesday proposed to fine Fox broadcast-network affiliates a combined $1.2 million for violating indecency rules with the April 2003 broadcast of Married By America, a program that included scenes in which “party-goers lick[ed] whipped cream from strippers’ bodies in a sexually suggestive manner.”
The FCC proposed fines of $7,000 apiece for 25 owned and operated Fox stations and 144 independent affiliates for airing the raunchy broadcast during primetime.
The Fox fine set a record for a TV-indecency violation, breaking the old one set last month when 20 CBS O&Os (but not the independent affiliates) were fined for the Super Bowl halftime show in which singer Janet Jackson revealed her breast.
TV stations are barred from airing indecent programming from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., when children are expected to be in the viewing audience. The FCC describes indecent programming as depicting “sexual or excretory activities or organs in terms patently offensive by contemporary community standards.” The rules do not apply to cable or satellite.
Fox, which distorted the picture to shield the nudity, told the FCC that the sexual material was fleeting and not designed to pander or titillate. The agency rejected those defenses.
A Fox spokesman said the company disagreed with the ruling.