02.17.2004 12:00 PM
Originally featured on BroadcastEngineering.com
Commission responds to over 200,000 complaints about Super Bowl half time

The Federal Communications Commission has received more than 200,000 complaints about the Super Bowl halftime entertainment, according to a statement posted on the Commission’s Web site.

FCC Commissioners have testified before Congress on the matter; Chairman Michael Powell has sent letters to the broadcast networks and industry associations to remind them of the FCC’s determination to punish broadcast indecency; and the chairman has promised an immediate investigation into the incident.

The following sampling reflects the public reaction to date at the Commission. The full text of these comments may be downloaded from www.fcc.gov.

From Chairman Powell’s letter to CBS president Leslie Moonves:

The now infamous display during the Super Bowl halftime show… is just the latest example in a growing list of unfortunate incidents on the nation’s airwaves. Make no mistake, the Federal Communications Commission will continue to protect children and respond to the public’s concerns. …we will continue to vigorously enforce our indecency rules and standards. In this vein, we have called on Congress to increase our penalties ten-fold to strengthen our efforts.

From Commissioner Kevin Martin’s written statement to the Senate Commerce Committee:

“We need to make the decision to air indecent or profane language a bad business decision. The Commission should levy higher fines by fining violators ‘per utterance,’ not per program. I also strongly support the pending legislation to increase fines…. It doesn’t matter how tough our fining authority is if we don’t actually enforce the rules.”

From Commissioner Michael Copps’ written statement to the House Telecommunications subcommittee:

“‘Why don’t those parents just turn the set off,’” I have been told as I push to get some action on indecency. But are we supposed to just turn off the all-American Super Bowl? The half-time show gives the lie to that one."

From Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein’s statement to the Senate Commerce Committee:

“Some observe that broadcasters are only responding to competition from cable programming. Take MTV, a cable network known for pushing the envelope. It’s owned by Viacom, which also owns CBS. It’s no coincidence that MTV produced the halftime show. But the network thoughtlessly applied the cable programmer’s standards during the Super Bowl – the ultimate family event.”

From Commissioner Kathleen Abernathy’s written statement to the House Telecommunications subcommittee:

“It finally appears that the level of public tolerance is waning for artists who regard any live appearance on broadcast television as an opportunity for indecent utterances or actions. And it is also waning for broadcasters who, despite all the surprise and contriteness they display after an indecent incident has occurred, seem bereft of the common sense and control needed to prevent such action before it happens.”

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