The FCC has fined 13 FOX TV stations $7000 each for a 2003 episode of “Married by America.” The agency claimed that the show featured explicitly sexual scenes from bachelor and bachelorette parties.
The FCC had initially proposed a $1.2 million fine against 169 affiliates of Fox Broadcasting Co., a division of News Corp. However, under a new policy, the agency said it would only fine stations in markets where viewers complained.
Earlier, the FCC fined 44 ABC Television Network stations a total of $1.2 million over a 2003 broadcast of “NYPD Blue.” In this case, a woman’s nude buttock was shown.
In the “Married by America” ruling, stations in Des Moines, IA; Nashville, TN; Detroit; Washington; Minneapolis; West Point, MS.; Greenville, SC; Yakima, WA; Charleston WV; Lansing, MI; Roanoke, VA; Kansas City, MO; and Tampa, FL, face fines totaling $91,000.
“Fox strongly disagrees with the commission’s conclusions in the notice and we will be actively considering our options,” said Scott Grogin, the company’s senior vice president of corporate communications.
In issuing its order, the FCC rejected arguments from FOX and its affiliates that no fine was warranted since the agency’s indecency standard is unconstitutional — and the episode in question didn’t even meet the indecency test. The offending scenes were pixilated. “While it is true that the nude female breasts and buttocks shown were pixilated, the commission has never held that the full exposure of sexual or excretory organs is required to satisfy the first prong of the broadcast indecency standard,” the FCC said.