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FCC Rebuffs Indecency Complaints

The FCC denied a complaint by the Parents Television Council (PTC) that accused Fox stations and others for airing indecent material during an episode of the sitcom "Arrested Development."

"There are multiple scripted bleeps, and some sexual innuendo dealing with homosexuality," according to the complaint, however, the commission concluded that the episode lacked sufficient explicit or graphic material to be considered indecent.

The PTC also lodged a complaint against NBC for a recent "Will and Grace" episode and again the commission did not agree that the material was explicit enough to be considered indecent.

Additionally, complaints were made against stations that aired the World War II film, "Saving Private Ryan" that contained strong language and violent scenes usually deemed unsuitable for primetime broadcasts, but again the FCC denied the complaint, in part because, "The horror of war and the enormous personal sacrifice it draws on cannot be painted in airy pastels," wrote Chairman Powell in a statement.

Powell said that responsible broadcasters will disclose what viewers are likely to see and hear, "to allow individuals and families to make their own well-informed decisions whether to watch or not. I believe ABC and its affiliated stations made a responsible effort to do just that in this case."

"Fair warning is appropriately an important consideration in indecency cases," Powell said.

For those wondering how the FCC deems material to be indecent, the broadcast must describe or depict sexual or excretory organs or activities and also must be patently offensive as measured by contemporary community standards for the broadcast medium, according to the "Indecency Policy Statement" in the Industry Guidance on the Commission's Case Law.