Television

FCC comes down on Golden Globes for profane word

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MUMBAI: Looks like US broadcasters will have to be on constant standby to watch out for offensive language during live events.

A few days ago the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) 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. That decision made in October 2003 had ruled that 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.

However the Commission overruled the Bureau decision . 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.

What this means is that the Commission has sent out a clear message that similar broadcasts in the future could lead to forfeitures and potential license revocation. As FCC chairman Michael Powell put it, " For the first time, the Commission has applied the profanity section of the statute for the broadcast of this highly offensive word, an application I fully support. The Commission has an important obligation to punish those who violate our law. In administering our authority, the Commission must afford parties fair warning and due process and not let our zeal trample these fundamental protections.

"Given that this decision clearly departs from past precedent in important ways, I could not support a fine retroactively against the parties. Prospectively, parties are on notice that they could now face significant penalties for similar violations."

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