The Federal Communication Commission's efforts to regulate indecency on broadcast TV drew sharp criticism during a gathering of the networks' entertainment chiefs.
NEW YORK (The Hollywood Reporter) -- The Federal Communication Commission's efforts to regulate indecency on broadcast TV drew sharp criticism during a gathering of the networks' entertainment chiefs.
Two of the networks -- CBS and Fox -- and their affiliates are facing big fines for alleged violations of the FCC's indecency code. ABC has run the gauntlet twice in recent weeks, first with an unedited airing of "Saving Private Ryan" that was dropped by dozens of affiliates and then with a "Monday Night Football" skit that featured the bare back of a "Desperate Housewives" actress.
At the Nov. 19 gathering, Fox's Gail Berman questioned the FCC's decision-making process in proposing a record $1.2 million fine against 169 affiliates for an episode of "Married by America." She said there were only three original complaints about the show; she noted that any network programming was likely to offend at least three people in the country. Fox is challenging the proposed fine.
Berman said she didn't know if the FCC's direction was the way to regulate the public airwaves.
"No one's clear about what their guidelines are," Berman said. "You can show 'Saving Private Ryan' several years ago, but you can't show 'Saving Private Ryan' now? Why not?"
ABC's Stephen McPherson said each network uses a standards and practices office and each has to make its own decisions on what they think is right.
"The last time I checked, I was in the entertainment business. I'm not in politics," McPherson said.
The entertainment heads acknowledged that politics played a part in the changing TV environment, with at least one hoping that the end of the election would calm the storm. NBC's Kevin Reilly said he hoped the FCC would change direction.
"I don't think the answer is more regulation -- it's self-regulation," Reilly said.
The exchange opened what has become an annual tradition for the International Radio & Television Society Foundation. CNN anchor Anderson Cooper moderated the event at the Waldorf Astoria in Manhattan.