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Commission reverses Enforcement Bureau ruling on Bono utterance

The FCC has issued an order concluding that the live broadcast of the phrase “f***ing brilliant,” spoken by Bono of U2 during the 2003 Golden Globe Awards, violated the statutory prohibitions on indecency and profanity.

The Commission granted an Application for Review filed by the Parents Television Council (“PTC”) of an earlier Enforcement Bureau decision concerning the Golden Globes Award broadcast by NBC.

In that decision, the Bureau ruled the broadcast had not violated the indecency prohibition because Bono’s use of the “F-word” had been fleeting and in a non-sexual context. The Commission overruled the Bureau decision and also concluded that other cases holding that isolated or fleeting use of the “F-word” are not indecent are no longer good law. The Commission further concluded that use of the “F-Word” in the context of the Golden Globe Awards was profane under 18 U.S.C. Section 1464.

Finally, the Commission emphasized that all broadcast licensees are on clear notice that similar broadcasts in the future will lead to forfeitures and potential license revocation, if appropriate.

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