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Three Complaints Cost Fox $1.2M

Jeff Jarvis of BuzzMachine filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the FCC for all of the complaints that the FCC received about an episode of Fox's Married by America. Fox was fined $1.2 million dollars for that episode, which contained no nudity or profanity.

After sorting through all of the letters the FCC provided to him, here's what he found:

So in the end, that means that a grand total of three citizens bothered to take the time to sit down and actually write a letter of complaint to the FCC. Millions of people watched the show. Three wrote letters of complaint.

And on the basis of that, the FCC decided to bring down the heavy hammer of government censorship and fine Fox an incredible $1.2 million for suggesting -- not depicting but merely suggesting -- sex on a show that had already been canceled because the marketplace didn't like it anyway.

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Comments (11)

They should investigate Rus... (Below threshold)
Marc Cantor:

They should investigate Rush Limbaugh. He's been talking dirty for the past few weeks. What's the difference between him and Stern, who was fined? Political friends? Anyway Bioll Clinton says he's going to lead the Democratic party. At least that counts for something after this Kerry let down.

They should investigate ... (Below threshold)

They should investigate Rush Limbaugh. He's been talking dirty for the past few weeks.

That's "innuendo," Marc. And he hasn't been doing it for the "past few weeks" -- he's been doing it since his first radio gig when he was, I believe, still in high school.

This is no surprise. Govern... (Below threshold)

This is no surprise. Government agencies run on rails until somebody stops them - and they are difficult indeed to stop, even when it seems like a slam dunk that they can't continue as is.

Here's a current example. And will a full solution ensue, or just paltry "steps in the right direction?" Always bet on the latter, and be stunned if we get more.

There's got to be some way ... (Below threshold)

There's got to be some way we can use this against the MSM liberal news organizations.

Lastango - I've now read yo... (Below threshold)

Lastango - I've now read your linked article re attempts to reform Title IX - to end oppression of the freedom to pursue life, lberty and happiness - in the Education Dept and sports sphere. What a shame the efforts stalled.

I'd love to see the tenacious proponents of sports freedom win against such bureaucratic stops.

Even further - I'd love to see the whole unconstitutional existence of the education department end (as well as all the other govt depts which have been foisted on us by liberals). But that would be too simple. (Some) Earth people seem to love complexity, hee hee!

That's probably why the liberals will never move.on.out to Canada - there'd be nothing to fight, no freedoms to take away from people.

While smoking my cigarette sitting in the cold OUTSIDE Starbucks, I began musing about how wonderful my life would be if they did leave... all those freedoms so gradually lost would be regained, I began to get a smile on my face, it was therapeutic just thinking about it!

- When the Sinclair mess wa... (Below threshold)

- When the Sinclair mess was used as a public display of the FCC's liberal bias I guessed somewhere down the line they would hit back. When the online GOP clubs rallyed members to flood the liberal commisioners with Emails damning the attempts to suppress the Sinclair broadcasts it got so bad the various lib commisioners put up a BS form letter and refused to answer any of the multi-thousands of complaints. This is just one more example of that liberal bias. The FCC is supposed to be bi-partisan. So far its not looking that way....

It's worth noting that (acc... (Below threshold)

It's worth noting that (according to what I've read) the regulatory agency levying a fine gets to keep the money, and do whatever it wants with it. So, there's a powerful incentive for bureaucrats to shake down the industries they regulate, and good reason for the regulated to shut up and pay up if they want to avoid even worse.

My impression is that, at some agencies, fines are frequent, sums large and the resulting slush huge. No doubt internal advancement there reflects success at generating revenue.

Well, it goes to show that ... (Below threshold)

Well, it goes to show that speaking out pays off sometimes. We all cry about how big government doesn't listen, but when it does....

Only 3 people wrote letters of complaint; I'm sure more people felt the same, but they didn't want to bother with a letter. Still, the offended ones were certainly a minority, but it shows that speaking out can payoff.

I still bother to write my reps in congress (not that they give hoot), because I want to be involved in the system. The system may not work right, but it definitely isn't going to work any better if I sit on my sofa munching chips, sucking on a pepsi, whine about my government, go to bed and never attempt to work with the system.

Well, now that 'W' has been re-elected we're in good hands...right?

What's most surprising to m... (Below threshold)

What's most surprising to me is that 3 people watched "Married by America". I assumed their ratings were worse than that.

Lastango, as an FCC license... (Below threshold)

Lastango, as an FCC licensee, I've been an observer of how they pursue fines and punish offenses (mostly in my own communications service, not so much in broadcast television), and my understanding is that the money received goes directly into the Treasury, not even earmarked for the FCC. They receive their budget, which is separate from any revenue from fines.

Boyd, you may be right - my... (Below threshold)

Boyd, you may be right - my recollections are fairly clear, but a decade or more old, so perhaps things have changed. I did some web searching but couldn't find anything concrete.

I did find a mention suggesting that the treasury (not the regulatory agency) gets the money, but it also seemed to suggest a kickback arrangement... legislation was passed to hugely increase the dollar amount of fines, so as to allow the agencies to be better revenue generators for the feds. In return for their diligence as de facto tax collectors, the agencies were rewarded with budget increases.

If that's correct, the corrupting effecting on regulatory decisions to levy fines might be similar to what it would be if the agencies pocketed the money.






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