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Reaction Mixed to TV Indecency Fine

WDBJ(TV), Roanoke, Va. says airing the graphic images was a mistake

Reaction is mixed to the $325,000 indecency fine proposed by the FCC for WDBJ(TV), Roanoke, Va., for airing indecent images during a newscast.

The fine, if not reduced, would be the biggest amount the agency has levied for a single indecent incident since Congress increased the penalties 10 years ago.

At issue are images of an erect penis that aired during a story in a 6 p.m. newscast one evening in 2012 about an ex-porn star who had joined a volunteer rescue squad; the agency, following up on complaints, says the images violate its prohibition against indecency when children may be in the audience.

The station told the commission including the images was accidental and licensee Schurtz Communications has 30 days to appeal or pay the fine.

NAB was disappointed with the “remarkably punitive” and “unprecedented” decision, according to executive vice president for Communications Dennis Wharton. Airing the graphic was unintentional and the family-owned Schurtz Communications has apologized, he added.

The National Center on Sexual Exploitation, formerly Morality in Media, and the Parents Television Council praised the FCC action. NCSE Executive Director Dawn Dawkins stated: “Indecency on TV sexualizes our children and prepares them to become participants in the pornified world that awaits them.”