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‘We Are Not the Federal Bureau of Indecency’

'We Are Not the Federal Bureau of Indecency'

FCC Chairman Powell has long been loathe to let government interfere with programming. Yet, as the indecency issue gained more traction in this election year, the commission increased the amount and frequency of its fines against broadcasters and in at least one instance, the chairman announced himself that the FCC would begin an investigation.
Now, in an opinion piece for the New York Times, Powell writes, “It’s time to take a deep breath” about the issue.
He reminds the public that programming must meet the legal definition of indecency to be actionable; it must be of a sexual or excretory nature; and it must be patently offensive.
“Mere bad taste is not actionable,” he states.
He says the agency relies on complaints from the public before taking action, saying, “(W)e are not the federal Bureau of Indecency. We do not watch or listen to programs hoping to catch purveyors of dirty broadcasts.”