ACLU Calls FCC Fine Paternalism at its Worst

January 28, 2008 12:00 am

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Washington, DC – The American Civil Liberties Union today criticized a Federal Communications Commission proposal of a $1.4 million fine against 52 ABC network affiliates that aired a 2003 episode of NYPD Blue during which a woman’s nude buttocks can be seen. The ACLU responded that the fine represents another egregious example of the government trying to decide what grown adults can and cannot watch.

The following can be attributed to ACLU Policy Counsel James Tucker:

“This is just another government attempt to trump our own good judgment and determine what we’re mature enough to see. NYPD Blue aired well past the bedtime of most children – at 10:00pm in most markets. Only those affiliates that aired the program between the hours of 6:00-10:00pm would be subject to the fine, which just goes to show the fickle nature of the FCC’s rules. By their logic, airing a shot of a bare behind at 10:30pm is fine, but the same shot at 9:30pm is worth millions in fines and penalties.

“It’s also worth noting that ABC included a warning before NYPD Blue indicating that the program was intended for mature audiences only. Such warnings allow audiences to decide for themselves whether they want to see the content, or permit their children to see the content. Instead, the government is stepping in to chill free speech and the free expression of ideas by ‘parenting the parents.’”

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