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FCC seeks $1.4 million for 'NYPD Blue' episode

By The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The Federal Communications Commission has proposed a $1.4 million fine against 52 ABC stations for a 2003 broadcast of police drama “NYPD Blue.”

The fine is for a scene where a boy surprises a woman as she prepares to take a shower. The scene depicted "multiple, close-up views" of the woman's "nude buttocks" according to an agency order issued late on Jan. 25.

ABC is owned by the Walt Disney Co. The fines were issued against 52 television stations either owned by or affiliated with the network.

The FCC's definition of indecent content requires that the broadcast "depicts or describes sexual or excretory activities" in a "patently offensive way" and is aired between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.

The agency said the show was indecent because "it depicts sexual organs and excretory organs — specifically an adult woman's buttocks."

FCC Commissioner Deborah Taylor Tate said in a statement: “The law is simple. If a broadcaster makes the decision to show indecent programming, it must air between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. This is neither difficult to understand nor burdensome to implement.”

The network defended its broadcast of the episode, saying in a statement, “ABC feels strongly that the FCC's finding is inconsistent with prior precedent from the Commission, the indecency statute, and the First Amendment, and we intend to oppose the proposed fine."

The agency rejected the network's argument that "the buttocks are not a sexual organ."


'Saving Private Ryan' not indecent, FCC rules

ABC's airing of war film had prompted complaints; 66 affiliates didn't broadcast it, fearing accusations that it was indecent, though commissioners had already ruled it was not. 03.01.05

3rd Circuit to study 'wardrobe malfunction'
Panel to decide whether 2004 Super Bowl halftime incident was indecent or fleeting, accidental glitch that shouldn't be punished. 09.11.07

Government seeks high court review of broadcast-indecency ruling
2nd Circuit said it was 'skeptical that the commission can provide a reasoned explanation for its fleeting expletive regime that would pass constitutional muster.' 09.27.07

Supreme Court takes broadcast-indecency case
First such case in 30 years concerns FCC policy allowing fines against broadcasters for 'fleeting expletives' on their programs. 03.17.08

Indecency regulation: beyond broadcast?
By David L. Hudson Jr. Currently FCC can't restrict indecent content on cable or satellite services — but some would like to change that. 12.05.07

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