Fox Challenges Fine Imposed for “Married By America”

Scenes featuring whipped-cream covered strippers and digitallyobscured nudity on Fox television’s April 2003 broadcast of”Married by America” will cost the network $1.2 million as a resultof a fine proposed this week by the Federal CommunicationsCommission, FCC.

According to the Washington Post, complaints to the FCC are atan all-time high as viewers and lawmakers object to the increasingraunchiness of over-the-air radio and television, and broadcasterscompete to keep pace with edgier cable programming.

The FCC said the six-minute segment included a variety of sexualactivities, including a man in his underwear on all fours beingspanked by two topless strippers.

Tuesday the FCC said that even though “Marriedby America” digitally obscured, or “pixilated” exposed breasts, thepixilation “does little to obscure the overtly sexual andgratuitous nature of the bachelor/bachelorette party scenes.”

Fox took issue with the FCC’s characterizationof the episode. “We disagree with the FCC’s decision and believethe content was not indecent,” Fox spokesman Scott Grogin toldreporters Tuesday night. Fox still has to decide whether to pay thefine or appeal the ruling.

FCC indecency rules state that programmingrelated to sexual or excretory function may not be broadcastbetween 6 a.m. and 10 p.m., times when children are most likelyprogram viewers. Since October 2003 the FCC has proposed $3.8million in fines against both radio and television stations inviolation.

The record-setting fine against the 196 Foxtelevision stations is the largest for showing indecency ontelevision.

For all of 2002, the FCC proposed only $99,400in indecency fines and in 2001, $91,000. Before that, the largestindecency settlement was a $1.7 million deal in 1995 to settleindecency charges prompted by Stern, according to the WashingtonPost.

Last week Stern announced that he will bemoving to satellite radio when his contract expires because the FCConly regulates radio and television broadcasts that are transmittedover free public airways and cannot regulate cable because viewerspay for the programming.

The rulings are a result of the licensingrenewal process that began Oct. 1.