Sage Communications KEGI-FM Jonesboro AR is getting its license renewed despite a two-issue challenge from American Heritage Media over incidents that have been kicking around since 2004. One involved an ad that mentioned a lottery – the phrase used in an ad for a local liquor store — “a whole Lotto luck and a whole lot more, if you know what I mean, nudge, nudge, wink, wink” – was deemed over the lottery line and a 4K fine was pinned to the infraction.
The other charge was alleged indecency involving double-entendre wordplay featuring a Hooters restaurant, golf tees and golf balls. The FCC got it – it was dealing with not-so-sly references were to breasts and testicles – but wrote, “…the references are not sufficiently graphic or explicit to be patently offensive under contemporary community standards for the broadcast medium.” The lotto infraction was deemed minor, and the station was deemed to have served the public interest, and therefore received its license renewal.
RBR/TVBR observation: And thus once again is the ultimate futility of broadcast indecency regulation highlighted in stark relief. Broadcasters can pretty much say anything they want, any time – it’s the wording that counts.
In his celebrated monologue that has become the basis for FCC indecency regulation, George Carlin touched on the many two-way words that could easily be worked into a broadcast conversation. And that doesn’t even hint at the torrent of creativity emanating from raunch-minded air personalities when they want to take the conversation into forbidden territory. There is no need to take the direct, heavy seven word approach. The world is full of analogies. And words can be made up out of thin air and used in such a way as to suggest whatever the coiner wishes to suggest. The FCC can make certain words too expensive to utter, but it cannot even begin to keep the concepts and ideas behind those words off the air.
It all goes to create a gray area that is hopelessly gray and as wide as the human imagination. And the forbidden word rules fuel the temptation to get around them and may well make the situation worse than it would be if there were no indecency regs at all.