Fox recon shot down on technicality


The indecency case against Fox regarding its 2003 broadcast of "Married by America," and its creative usage of whipped cream, has led the network to butt heads with the FCC. It’s refusing to pay a modest 91K fine, and for its part, the FCC, much less than reconsidering the case, is refusing to so much as consider a petition for reconsideration.

In fact, we’ll go ahead and stack this FCC objection in the "who knew?" file. It’s hinged in part on the fact that the Fox petition was oversized. As the FCC put it, "Petitioners acknowledge that their Petition for Reconsideration exceeds the applicable page limits for summaries and petitions for reconsideration set forth in the Commission’s rules, and ask for a waiver of those page limits." So in partial answer to the "who knew" question we can say that Fox knew. But Fox did not allow enough lead time for the waiver request, nor did it bother to explain why it was so wordy.

RBR/TVBR observation: Fox has already refused to pay the fine, calling the ruling — based not on bad language but on the broadcast of pixilated nudity — as arbitrary and capricious. ABC has even more grounds for an arbitrary and capricious complaint, since it was roughed up to the tune of about 1.4M for a similar offense. So this minor skirmish probably doesn’t mean anything in the final analysis.

But it does cause us to offer a word to the wise: Do not send the FCC a petition for reconsideration until it has been exercised, and excess verbiage excised, by your very best editors.