Indecency Rhetoric Rises

The war of words is not yet enough to warrant censorship in the family hour, but the networks’ push-back on the FCC escalated today with a Fox challenge to the feds crackdown. Undaunted by the O.J. Simpson fiasco, Fox argues in a court filing that the FCC’s guidelines are arbitrary, that their attempts to explain it have been an “utter failure” and that the commission’s ban on broadcast indecency is “unconstitutionally vague.” An FCC spokesman didn’t mince words in response.

Said David Fiske, “By continuing to argue that it is okay to say the F-word and the S-word on television whenever it wants, Hollywood is demonstrating once again how out of touch it is with the American people. We believe there should be some limits on what can be shown on television when children are likely to be watching.”

ABC, meanwhile, has withdrawn from the challenge after the FCC reversed a ruling over an episode of “NYPD Blue.” They could still join in, however, as the Parents Television Council is challenging the FCC’s reversal.

Update: NBC and CBS weigh in. CBS: “Contrary to the recent statements by the FCC suggesting we are seeking the right to use expletives at will in our programming, all CBS is seeking is a return to the FCC’s previous time-honored practice of more measured indecency enforcement.”  Also, the Center for Creative Voices in Media, a lobbying group of producers, writers and directors, calls the indecency guidelines “unworkable.”

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