One thing is clear: the FCC has no clue what it's doing and needs to dramatically overhaul its indecency rulings to reflect the real world and stop using its power to clamp down on people or topics it doesn't like. The absurdly massive increase in FCC fines was insulting. Their random, chaotic and confusing rulings are so insane that PBS made headlines recently when it decided to air the next Ken Burns documentary The War -- about WW II -- beginning at 8 p.m. even though the the film contains, I think, two brief moments of curse words. Imagine that, soldiers cursing. If anyone thinks young kids are going to watch a 14 hour documentary just for the "thrill" of hearing some curse words unbleeped, they have lost their minds.
Now, the FCC is reversing itself in hopes of fighting off court challenges to its idiotic standards. It decided "bullshitter" was okay on CBS's "The Early Show" because that's a news program. I don't know how much a live interview about the latest person to leave "Survivor" constitutes news, but this still seems stupid. I'm sure parents don't want their kids hearing curse words. If CBS makes a habit of this, they'll complain and turn it off. Obviously, it was a live interview and a one-time inadvertent event. There has to be some acknowledgment of events outside a show's control, as opposed to scripted language in a drama or comedy.
More annoyingly, the FCC dismissed a complaint about language used on "NYPD Blue" in a market where the show airs at 9 p.m. They decided it was a "non-complaint" on a technicality because the person complaining wasn't living in the market here the episode aired. Get that? Someone in another state complained that "NYPD Blue" aired at 9 p.m. in a state where they don't even live. Why is this a "technicality?" NO ONE in the market complained about these episodes. But someone in another state who just decided they wanted to force everyone else to only watch the types of programs they approve of made a complaint. Why would the FCC ever listen to complaints about a broadcast in Kansas made by a person in Mississippi? It's just absurd.
I've said it before: unless at least one half of one percent of a broadcasts' viewers complain, the FCC should NEVER take action. One complaint by one viewer in ANY state is not worth investigating. Politically motivated complaints by the same band of people also should be ignored. Genuine complaints by genuine viewers should be investigated, but only if enough people take umbrage. Someone will always be offended by something. But if 99.5% of viewers aren't upset, why would the FCC ever investigate? I'll tell you why: because it almost never happens and the FCC would have lost its cudgel. Let the marketplace work. If a show keeps offending viewers, it won't last.