The FCC has a message for ABC: Buttocks and breasts do count as “sexual or excretory organs.”

The Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday upheld its ruling that 45 ABC affiliates are obligated to shell out a total of $1.2 million in fines for airing a seg of “NYPD Blue” that included a shot of a woman’s bare backside and a sidelong glimpse of her bare breasts. (Daily Variety, Jan. 28).

In the ruling Tuesday, due to procedural reasons, the FCC did drop seven stations from the original list of 52 affiliates due for fines.

The commission issued its decision in the long-running indecency case last month, finding that the material on the Feb. 25, 2003, episode of the show was graphic, patently offensive and designed to titillate viewers. The affiliates facing fines are in Central and Mountain time zones where the seg aired before 10 p.m. local time, and thus insidethe FCC’s 6 a.m.-10 p.m. “safe harbor” where the commish has the authority to police indecent content.

ABC mounted a vigorous defense of the material, arguing the physiological point that buttocks and breasts per se did not count as “sexual” organs. Alphabet web also noted the show’s history of winning awards and critical raves, and it noted that the seg ran with a disclaimer warning viewers of the nude scenes to come.

FCC commissioners didn’t buy any of it. In the order upholding the fine, which amounts to $27,500 per station, FCC made its case that by any reasonable measure, the fact that female breasts and buttocks are kept covered in public is evidence that they violate the “community standard” test for acceptability in nude scenes on broadcast TV. If the FCC were to accept ABC’s argument that boobs and butts are not sexual organs, “the airwaves could be filled with naked buttocks and breasts during the daytime and primetime hours because they would be outside the scope of indecency regulation,” the commission warned.

The commissioners even needled ABC about its creative approaches to fighting the fines.

“While their responses … are brimming with medical definitions and arguments, the respondents offer no legal or public policy reason for their argument, and we find it lacking in merit,” the commission wrote.

The FCC ruling on “NYPD Blue” comes as the major broadcasters are vowing a prolonged fight against the commission’s crackdown on indecency. The fines levied against “Blue” were based on the penalty rate that was in force at the time the seg aired. Congress has since hiked indecency violation fines to a maximum of $325,000 per incident.

On Tuesday, ABC reps reiterated the statement issued last month: “When the brief scene in question was telecast almost five years ago, this critically acclaimed drama had been on the air for a decade, and the realistic nature of its storylines was well known to the viewing public. ABC feels strongly that the FCC’s finding is inconsistent with prior precedent from the commission, the indecency statute, and the First Amendment.”