I am becoming a bit less sanguine about the new “zero tolerance” broadcast atmosphere. Yesterday the FCC went pretty nuts with the fines and the condemnations:
- The Federal Communications Commission on Thursday overruled its staff and declared that an expletive uttered by rock star Bono on NBC last year was both indecent and profane. The agency made it clear that virtually any use of the F[uck]-word was inappropriate for over-the-air radio and television.
“The ‘F[uck]-word’ is one of the most vulgar, graphic and explicit descriptions of sexual activity in the English language,” the commission said Thursday. “The fact that the use of this word may have been unintentional is irrelevant; it still has the same effect of exposing children to indecent language.”
….But the commissioners did not propose a fine for Bono’s expletive during the 2003 Golden Globe Awards because, they said, they had never before said that virtually any use of the F[uck]-word violated its rules.
Indeed, the commission specifically rejected earlier findings that occasional use of the F[uck]-word was acceptable, including a ruling by its enforcement bureau last October that Bono’s comment was not indecent or obscene because he did not use the word to describe a sexual act.
….The decision also marked the first time that the FCC cited a four-letter word as profane; the commission previously equated profanity with language challenging God’s divinity.
NBC said in a statement: “We believe the commission made the right decision in not fining us over the regrettable Bono incident. As we’ve previously said, Bono’s utterance was unacceptable and we regret it happened.”
In another decision Thursday, the FCC proposed fining Infinity Broadcasting the maximum $27,500 for a Stern show broadcast July 26, 2001, on WKRK-FM in Detroit. The FCC received a complaint from a Detroit listener about a show that featured discussions about sexual practices and techniques.
The commission also affirmed a $7,000 fine for indecency first leveled in 2000 against Infinity station WLLD in Holmes Beach, Fla., for a live hip-hop concert featuring references to oral sex.
….The FCC also proposed fining a subsidiary of Clear Channel, the nation’s largest radio station chain, the maximum $55,000 for a broadcast on two Florida radio stations, WAVW in Stuart and WCZR in Vero Beach, where the host conducted an interview with a couple allegedly having sex.
Clear Channel executive vice president Andrew Levin said, “We’re as determined as ever to make sure that we don’t have any violations in the future.”
Federal law bars radio stations and over-the-air television channels from airing references to sexual and excretory functions between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m., when children may be tuning in. The rules do not apply to cable and satellite channels or satellite radio.
The House earlier this month voted to increase the maximum fine for indecency to $500,000. Similar legislation is pending in the Senate. [AP]
Here is a transcript of the Stern show that was fined:
- Radio Station: WKRK-FM, Detroit, MI
Date/Time of Broadcast: July 26, 2001, 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 a.m.
Material Broadcast: The Howard Stern Show
HS: Howard Stern
RQ: Robin Quivers
MV: Male Cast Member
HS: I said to Mark Wahlberg yesterday, had he ever gotten a blumpkin from a girl and everyone around here is acting like they don’t know what it is.
RQ: You’re the only nutcase who does.
MV: I said “blumpkin” on the “Norm Show” and the network censor, we told him we just made the word up. He goes, “that’s definitely not a real word right?” We go, no, no, no. And I said it, I yelled out at a hooker in a cab.
HS: What do you say to her, “how about a blumpkin?”
MV: I go “honey, how much for a blumpkin?”
MV: And uh the network censor never heard of it. And he goes if you just made it up it’s fine but if it’s a real thing we can’t have it. So it’s aired, it’s been on ABC, it’s like the dirtiest thing ever on television.
HS: Yeah, but nobody knows what it is. A blumpkin… I can explain it cleanly.
RQ: There’s nothing clean about a blumpkin.
HS: Well, a blumpkin is receiving oral sex while you’re sitting on a toilet bowl if you are a man. You’re sitting on a toilet bowl and uh, while you’re evacuating you receive your oral.
HS: And uh, then, what did I say yesterday too you didn’t understand? Balloon knot?
RQ: Yes, I don’t know what that is. Somebody said to me “is that the funniest thing ever?” and I was like “what is that?”
HS: A balloon knot…
RQ: I didn’t want to show my ignorance, I laughed too.
HS: A balloon knot… I’m gonna post these on a web site…
RQ: Yeah, we need a dictionary for this show.
HS: A balloon knot is when you bend over and I can see up right up your old…
RQ: Up the wazoo?
HS: Up the wazoo and uh, you know that’s a balloon knot that you see. That’s called a “balloon knot.”
RQ: Really, I did not know that.
HS: Think about it, it looks like a balloon knot.
RQ: I don’t know. Oh… you know what…
HS: Tie up a balloon.
RQ: I’m just thinking of a balloon knot…
MV: It all makes sense, Robin, come on.
HS: And uh, what else did I say? “Nasty Sanchez,” you didn’t know what that was.
RQ: Oh, I don’t even want to know half the time what these things are…
HS: That I’d have to post on the internet.
RQ: ‘Cause there’ve been a number of terms used lately. Would you do… ’cause KC’s always blurtin’ them out.
HS: “Strawberry shortcake”
RQ: “Strawberry shortcake” I’ve never heard of. “Dirty Sanchez”
HS: “Nasty Sanchez.”
RQ: What is the others KC?
MV: I heard a new one the other day. It was the “David Copperfield.”
HS/RQ: That’s right.
MV: Okay, do you want to explain it, since I… When you’re goin’ like a dog…
MV: …and you’re about to finish and instead you don’t finish, you spit on her and then you turn around and when she turns her face around then you go… So it’s kind of like an illusion…
MV: to David Copperfield.
RQ: Sleight of hand.
MV: Classic misdirection.
HS: You trick her. There’s a million of them, but uh, I’ll post them on the web.
RQ: Yes, because people need to know. These aren’t in the regular dictionary.
It’s dirty and all, but not specifically obscene. Get thee to satellite Howard, a mighty wind is blowing, blowing across the land.