A TV watchdog group is going after CBS for airing the f-word during Sunday’s Super Bowl telecast.
The Parents Television Council is calling on the Federal Communications Commission to take action against the broadcaster after Baltimore Ravens quarterback and Super Bowl XLVII MVP Joe Flacco threw out an enthusiastic profanity while enjoying his team’s victory.
“This is f–king awesome!” the Super Bowl MVP exclaimed while hugging teammate Marshal Yanda after the game. The expletive was captured by a nearby microphone and aired live on CBS.
“Despite empty assurance after empty assurance from the broadcast networks that they would never air indecent material, especially during the Super Bowl, it has happened again,” said PTC president Tim Winter. “No one should be surprised that a jubilant quarterback might use profane language while celebrating a career-defining win, but that is precisely the reason why CBS should have taken precautions. Joe Flacco’s use of the f-word, while understandable, does not absolve CBS of its legal obligation to prevent profane language from being broadcast – especially during something as uniquely pervasive as the Super Bowl. The instance was aired live across the country, and before the FCC’s designated ‘Safe Harbor’ time everywhere but along the East Coast.”
CBS Sports had a time-delay in place during the game’s halftime show — where Super Bowl broadcasters tend to expect trouble — and one for the post-game analysis. But the network did not have a time delay during live gameplay, a period of time that included showing the post game celebration.
The PTC previously led the charge against CBS after another Super Bowl, when Janet Jackson had her “wardrobe malfunction” in 2004. After an eight-year battle, the Supreme Court cleared CBS of its $550,000 fine after declining to pick up the case. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. warned that similar fleeting offenses could now be punished due to changes in FCC rules, noting, “It is now clear that the brevity of an indecent broadcast — be it word or image — cannot immunize it from F.C.C. censure.” Yet according to AdWeek, more than 1.5 million indecency complaints involving more than 9,700 programs have piled up at the FCC, so enforcing obscenity isn’t high on the agency’s priority list.
“Now nine years after the infamous Janet Jackson incident, the broadcast networks continue to have ‘malfunctions’ during the most-watched television event of the year, and enough is enough,” Winter said. “After more than four years of inaction on broadcast decency enforcement, the FCC must step up to its legal obligation to enforce the law, or families will continue to be blindsided.”
Flacco will appear tonight on CBS’ Late Show with David Letterman. CBS has not commented on the mishap.