EW explains how the FCC monitors ''decency''
EW explains how the FCC monitors ''decency.'' Whether it's one person or 1,000, the FCC considers all complaints
If the FCC ever lands jurisdiction over cable, its bureau won’t have to watch 24 hours a day of MTV, waiting to bust a threesome. The commission doesn’t monitor the airwaves, it simply considers and investigates complaints by viewers regarding indecency, which can result in steep fines. CBS stations were fined a total $550,000 for the Jackson incident, but so far there have been no penalties this year: The FCC has ruled on 41 shows, including Arrested Development and Will & Grace, and not one of them was deemed indecent. (It’s worth noting that indecency rules don’t apply to the broadcast nets from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., which is considered safe harbor.) Though activist groups like the PTC rally followers on their websites to file mass complaints, FCC spokesman David Fiske says the number of filings against a show is irrelevant. ”A write-in campaign using the Internet is not treated any differently than one or two people sending in a handwritten complaint,” he says. ”We don’t do polling.”