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Outgoing commissioner fires salvo at FCC over indecency charge

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  1. Content Restrictions

    NMU         WASHINGTON, D.C.         Broadcasting         Jul 2, 2001    

Outgoing commissioner fires salvo at FCC over indecency charge

  • An FCC commissioner issued another written statement criticizing the agency’s enforcement bureau for dismissing an indecency complaint.

FCC Commissioner Gloria Tristani on June 27 blasted the dismissal of an indecency complaint against a Pennsylvania television station that may have shown nudity on a morning news show.

Tristani, who is expected to resign her post later this year to seek the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate in New Mexico, called on the FCC’s enforcement bureau to reevaluate its handling of indecency complaints.

The complaint was filed in January by a viewer of Philadelphia’s WTXF-TV. Cherie Degnan of Ambler, Pa., reported that full frontal male and female nudity was broadcast just before 9 a.m. without advance warning from the station.

The enforcement bureau dismissed the complaint because Degnan failed to provide a “tape, transcript, or significant excerpts” of the broadcast in question. Bureau officials said there was no way to determine whether the images broadcast were indecent.

The alleged nudity occurred during a feature story on a nude Olympics contest in Australia. The story apparently included a brief shot of nude individuals.

Tristani criticized FCC officials for relying on First Amendment concerns to justify the “procedural hurdles” needed to sustain a complaint.

“The First Amendment does not require a certain level of proof in a citizen’s complaint to the FCC,” Tristani said in a written statement. “The FCC is free to gather evidence however it wants — from complainants or from broadcasters.”

Tristani has repeatedly criticized the FCC in recent months for dismissing indecency complaints.


© 2001 The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

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