Fox Television/News Corporation is refusing to pay a 91K FCC fine levied for the airing of pixilated nudity on a briefly-aired 2003 reality show called "Married by America." According to News Corp. sister the Wall Street Journal, Fox finds the fine to be "arbitrary and capricious, inconsistent with precedent and patently unconstitutional." Fox already has a Supreme Court date with the FCC over the issue of fleeting expletives, expected to be heard later this year.
The FCC’s resolution to the aging Fox case was interesting in that it was juxtaposed with another involving ABC and also dating back to 2003. In the ABC case, bare buttocks were the offending video content.
RBR/TVBR observation: Would you like a definition of ‘arbitrary and capricious?" How about this: It describes a situation wherein contemporary incidents involving highly questionable findings of indecent content receive wildly different punishments. Fox drew a 7K-per station fine charged to only 13 stations specifically cited by complainants, even though it aired on 169; while the ABC episode of "NYPD Blue" drew 27.5K per station to all 52 stations airing the program outside of safe harbor. ABC paid the fine but is challenging it, and we’re glad to see Fox jump in as well.