Federal Communications Commission
445 12th St., S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20554
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Released: April 1, 2013
FCC REDUCES BACKLOG OF BROADCAST INDECENCY COMPLAINTS BY 70%
(MORE THAN ONE MILLION COMPLAINTS); SEEKS COMMENT ON ADOPTING
EGREGIOUS CASES POLICY
PLEADING CYCLE ESTABLISHED
GN Docket No. 13-86
Comment Date: 30 days after publication in the Federal Register
Reply Comment Date: 60 days after publication in the Federal Register
After the Supreme Court’s decision in FCC v. Fox Television Stations, Inc., 132 S.Ct.
2307 (2012), in September 2012, Chairman Genachowski instructed Commission staff to
commence a review of the Commission’s broadcast indecency policies and enforcement to
ensure they are fully consistent with vital First Amendment principles. In the interim, the
Chairman directed the Enforcement Bureau (Bureau) to focus its indecency enforcement
resources on egregious cases and to reduce the backlog of pending broadcast indecency
complaints. Since September 2012, the Bureau has reduced the backlog by 70% thus far, more than one million complaints, principally by closing pending complaints that were beyond the statute of limitations or too stale to pursue, that involved cases outside FCC jurisdiction, that contained insufficient information, or that were foreclosed by settled precedent. The Bureau is also actively investigating egregious indecency cases and will continue to do so. We now seek comment on whether the full Commission should make changes to its current broadcast indecency policies or maintain them as they are. For example, should the Commission treat isolated expletives in a manner consistent with our decision in Pacifica Foundation, Inc., Memorandum Opinion and Order, 2 FCC Rcd 2698, 2699 (1987) (“If a complaint focuses solely on the use of expletives, we believe that . . . deliberate and repetitivuse in a patently offensive manner is a requisite to a finding of indecency.”) Should the Commission instead maintain the approach to isolated expletives set forth in its decision in Complaints Against Various Broadcast Licensees Regarding Their Airing of the “Golden Globe Awards” Program, Memorandum Opinion and Order, 19 FCC Rcd 4975 (2004) As another example, should the Commission treat isolated (non-sexual) nudity the same as or differently than isolated expletives? Commenters are invited to address these issues as well as any other aspect of the Commission’s substantive indecency policies. Today’s Public Notice does not alter any of the Commission’s current substantive indecency policies. While we build a record for the full Commission’s consideration, the aforementioned directive to the Bureau to focus its indecency enforcement resources on egregious cases remains in force, and the Commission and/or Bureau may take enforcement actions during the pendency of this Public Notice. For purposes of this proceeding, we are establishing a new docket, GN Docket No. 13-8All comments should refer to GN Docket No. 13-86. Comments may be filed using (1) the Commission’s Electronic Comment Filing System…..
(ECFS), (2) the Federal Government’s eRulemaking Portal, or (3) by filing paper copies.