Britney Spears’ latest album includes a song which taps into an apparently age-old sly musician penchant for spelling out words that George Carlin noted were not allowed on the air. “If U Seek Amy” comes from the “Circus” album, and while some have questioned whether the tune is indecent or not, the Parents Television Council is having no qualms putting it in the indecency category. It is warning stations to keep it off the air between 6AM-10PM when children are likely to be in the audience.
According to Billboard, at least some stations are airing the tune, although a PD they spoke with said they were using doctored versions where the word “see” replaces “seek”, or they were having DJ shout over part of the offending passage.
According to reports, PTC is not planning a massive protest and says it is not lying in ambush to catch stations playing an unedited version.
Interestingly, “Circus” was reviewed by Common Sense Media, another organization whose mission is to help parents manage their children’s media consumption. It rated it appropriate for age 13 and up, but made no specific mention of “If U Seek Amy.” Even more interestingly, reputed incoming FCC Chair Julius Genachowski is a founding boartd member of Common Sense.
RBR/TVBR observation: We are not attorneys, but this smacks of the proverbial gray area which makes indecency enforcement such a challenge. There have not been many new indecency cases since the top-drawer fine rose to $325K, in part as the FCC and broadcast communities have been waging a series of skirmishes in the courts. We doubt the FCC would unlimber a huge fine and club a station with it over this tune, but we also know that most stations don’t have $325K or even the good old $32.5K amount just lying around these days, so if it was us, we’d just let this tune be. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how the chilling effect of a massive fining capability works in real life.