FCC Sends YouTubers Searching For Butt Scene

Fines ABC for shocking and titillating them

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The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) thought long and hard about whether Charlotte Ross’s buttocks were both shocking and titillating. Five years later, they’ve decided they were indeed, and are fining 52 ABC stations $1.4 million.

Or $27,500 per Central and Mountain time zone station that presented Ms. Ross’s derriere before 10 PM.

In case you missed the February 25, 2003 pre-Nipplegate episode on its first run, the news of the FCC’s indecency fine has spurred millions to check it out on YouTube. If YouTube deletes it for fear of copyright infringement, likely it’ll pop up again from other users.

If not, the Parents Television Council, who made the initial complaint and who hates any type of raunchiness on TV, has a clip of the raunchiness on their website, along with lots of other titillating and shocking clips.

It’s a good thing, too, because you’d likely have forgotten how appalling it was after five years. And kids that missed it the first time around are surely to see it now, and learn how to be appalled as well.

The FCC, a group of taxpayer-funded grownups who refer to certain unutterable terms as "the s-word" and the like, used some of that taxpayer money to issue a 16-page report officially declaring a semi-nude woman on television indecent. Luckily, the taxpayers will get that money back via the money ABC now owes them, and which will cover other unsuccessful investigations into new words like "hamsterbating."

The 16-page proposal is a must read for entertainment buffs, as the FCC fends off ABC’s argument that views of Ross’s nude body from the back and side were not "lewd, prurient, pandering, or titillating." But the FCC declared that not only was the scene "shocking and titillating," but also that the camera lingered on her buttocks and returned to them.

(And if you’re quick and extra-pervy, you can almost see her whats-it.)

The argument follows then, that if ABC had only shown her buttocks once and went on, then they’d be in the clear. Mo Rocca interviews Dennis Franz’ buttocks, which have also appeared on the show, and Franz’ buttocks are pretty upset. But according to the FCC’s logic, Franz’ buttocks, while perhaps shocking, were not all that titillating.

ABC disagreed that buttocks are a sexual organ as the FCC declared, but the FCC was unanimous in the proclamation that while "shocked and titillated" are hard to define, they know it when they feel it.

That the little boy’s ears where aptly placed in the full frontal shot didn’t seem to help ABC’s cause either.

In a statement, FCC Commissioner Deborah Tate said, " Our action today should serve as a reminder to all broadcasters that Congress and American families continue to be concerned about protecting children from harmful material and that the FCC will enforce the laws of the land vigilantly.  In fact, pursuant to the Broadcast Decency Act of 2005, Congress increased the maximum authorized fines ten-fold.  The law is simple.  If a broadcaster makes the decision to show indecent programming, it must air between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.  This is neither difficult to understand nor burdensome to implement."

If you want to see a semi-nude woman before that, you should go to an art museum or look in your dad’s underwear drawer like everybody else. And yes, you’re right if it appears they’re applying a penalty instituted in 2005 to an infraction that occurred in 2003. Whatever happened to ex post facto?

The PTC, as expected, was very happy. The organization published a statement on its site, part of which reads:

“Despite the TV networks’ scurrilous lawsuits claiming a ‘right’ to air profanity, and that a striptease in the middle of the Super Bowl was somehow not indecent, this order should serve as a reminder to every broadcaster and every network that they must use the public airwaves responsibly and in a manner which serves the public interest."

Because the public, as illustrated by the millions of views on YouTube, is not interested in, not in the slightest, Charlotte Ross’s should-be-immortalized-with-oil-on-canvas form.

And we wonder why Europe thinks we’re uptight. 

FCC Sends YouTubers Searching For Butt Scene
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  • Tuxcat

    I think ABC did itself in when it showed the kid’s response in a shot framed between Ross’s legs. That was perhaps a bit much for 9 o’clock  — though it would have been just fine an hour later. Indecency enforcement is a funny thing, but ABC should perhaps, at this stage in its long existence, be aware of exactly  how funny it is.

    And what Europe thinks is really neither here nor there. Though one might note that a lot of European TV is American TV, so obviously they don’t have that big a problem with how uptight we are, or aren’t.


  • Hmngwy

    There are places in the world where people still walk around without clothes on. Perhaps just as shocking as this video clip – there was a time we westerners did the same thing. Raises the philosophical questions: 1/ Why have we associated shame and regret with our natural state? There is a propensity toward abuse of nudity and what it might suggest, but is not the very scandolous nature of nakedness a symptom of our prudishness? If we didn’t create such a premium on it by making it so overtly suggestive and rare would there be such a clamour to exploit it? Is the Parents Television Council and the FCC investing as much time and energy on real issues like the serious, raw violence, horror and fear-mongering that is shown on TV indiscriminately? Or do these things somehow fall under our charter of rights and liberties?

    Dean Unger

  • Alex Amsterdam

    To think anyone would even think to take the trouble to start a 1.5 million dollar court case.

    I guess if your a maniac like Bush you could.

    I apologize for polluting the airwaves with this trivial goo.

    Alex Amsterdam

    Sure glad I live in good old Canada.


  • Mark

    Until the FCC cracks down on violence instead of simple nudity, they have no credibility with the general public. This agency has the mindset of a fundamentalist preacher, and the timing of FEMA. No real surprise in the neo-conservatives America.

  • Guest

    Sorry, but I find this article the reviewers comments more appalling than the rather frank and modest shots that tell the story of a young woman who has a small child walk in her as she is about to enter the shower.  This scene is NOT about sex or violence or some sort of perversion, unless you concider taking a shower perverse. 

    What I don’t like is the sense of dread the child is made to show – children are not born with a fear of the naked body.  This has to be drilled in by pathologically insecure adults, like the reviwer.  Most young children would have gigled and shut the door.  In many parts of world families bath, vacation, and live naked without doing any psychological harm.  Only in this country, thanks to it Puritanical heratige, do people get so upset over such a harmless thing.

    I say, get over it – no harm done!

  • Richard Erckman

    The American people need to get over nudity as an issue.  Everyone was born nude and I believe most everyone bathes nude in the shower or tub.  I find nothing offensive regarding that film clip.  People have worse things to see on TV than waste their time and taxpayers dollars on something as plain and common as taking a shower.  GET OVER IT and move on.


    Richard Erckman

  • http://www.rankbetterseo.com/seo-success.php best seo company

    Thats crazy.

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