The FCC has approved widespread use of the F-word in broadcasts-Truth! & Fiction!

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission Has Officially Approved the Use of the F-word on Any TV or Radio Show-Truth! & Fiction!

Summary of eRumor:

The eRumor says that the FCC has decided to allow the use of the F-word on any TV or radio show at any time of day or night. It’s in the form of an appeal from the American Family Association urging citizens to complain to the FCC and to members of congress.

The Truth:

An Federal Communications Commission (FCC) decision about a particular occurrence of the F-word on a telecast has sparked controversy, but it isn’t accurate to say that the FCC has approved blanket use of the F-word on radio and television.

On April 1, 2013 the FCC released a public notice requesting comments regarding their indecency policies. Click for statement.

Currently, the FCC has a guideline posted on their website stressing that content is important to whether or not they will pursue a broadcaster for violations.  The guideline said, “It is a violation of federal law to air obscene programming at any time. It is also a violation of federal law to air indecent programming or profane language during certain hours. Congress has given the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) the responsibility for administratively enforcing these laws. The FCC may revoke a station license, impose a monetary forfeiture or issue a warning if a station airs obscene, indecent or profane material.”

It was during the Golden Globes Awards telecast on January 19, 2003 that Bono of the band U2 told the audience “this is really, really, f___ing brilliant”” The FCC said the comment was also reported as “this is f___ing great.”

There were numerous complaints.

The FCC issued a ruling that said Bono used the word as an adjective and not to describe sexual or excretory organs or activities, which is the FCC’s key test for broadcast indecency. In it’s ruling, the FCC said that such “fleeting and isolated remarks of this nature do not warrant Commission action.”

Still, critics are saying that even the use of the F-word as an adjective has not been that common on broadcasts, primarily because of fear of running afoul of the FCC and they fear this will mark a change.

The FCC responds to complaints of viewers and listeners and rulings regarding objectionable words and scenes have been made before, especially about radio programs. An FCC decision is not the only one affecting what is broadcast. There are also local or state laws that are a part of the picture as well as the decisions and standards of broadcast organizations…not to mention the public.

Posted 11/24/03  Updated 4/10/13