Sunday, February 3, 2008

Super Bowl XLII: You May Think It's Live Football, But It's Not. It's Delayed!

It's a big day today! The New England Patriots will square off against the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLII. People will be glued to their TV sets to watch the 5-hour pregame crap and then it's time for the big game...LIVE from Arizona! Not! Yes folks, you may think it's live, but I will guarantee you that it ain't! The delay between what happens on the field will be delayed up to one whole minute! Add that to the satellite delays and it happened quite a while ago. I hate to break your bubble, but since the Superbowl Halftime Malfunction a couple of years ago, there hasn't been much "live" TV at all. Faced with big fine. the FCC who is responsible for protecting the nation's airwaves, still provides silly regulatory things for events like this!

It all started with Super Bowl XXXVIII, which acually was broadcast live in 2004 on CBS, was noted for a controversial halftime show in which Janet Jackson's bare breast was exposed by Justin Timberlake in what was referred to as a "wardrobe malfunction". The incident, sometimes referred to as Nipplegate, was widely discussed and was the most replayed event in Tivo history! It, along with the rest of the halftime show, led to a crackdown and widespread debate on perceived "indecency" in broadcasting, leading to a record $550,000 fine levied by the Federal Communications Commission to CBS as well as an increase of FCC fines per indecency violation to $325,000. Additionally, the halftime show was seen by some as a sign of decreasing morality in the national culture.

Now the FCC, focuses on the interests of a few narrow special interests groups that are so offended by what they see on television that they post long graphic descriptions of what offends them, just so you know why you should be offended and/or tune in when the show is played in reruns. And the FCC has taken notice. In fact, just recently they fined the TV show "NYPD Blue", which has been off-the-air for years, with an indecency judgement.Having read over the FCC ruling on a 2003 episode of NYPD Blue, in which Charlotte Ross exposes her bare behind (warning, link contains uncensored scene), I'd be amused if I weren't so appalled, especially at their view of the scene...

Here is the FCC's description of the scene in question, edited for your amusement:

The complaints refer to a scene at the beginning of the program, during which a woman and a boy, who appears to be about seven or eight years old, are involved in an incident that includes adult female nudity. During the scene in question, a woman wearing a robe is shown entering a bathroom, closing the door, and then briefly looking at herself in a mirror hanging above a sink. With her back to the camera, she removes her robe, thereby revealing the side of one of her breasts and a full view of her back. The camera shot includes a full view of her buttocks and her upper legs as she leans across the sink to hang up her robe. The complainants contend that such material is indecent and request that the Commission impose sanctions against the licensees responsible for broadcasting this material.

Now we get to the FCC's indecency analysis.

As an initial matter, we find that the programming at issue is within the scope of our indecency definition because it depicts sexual organs and excretory organs - specifically an adult woman's buttocks. Although ABC argues, without citing any authority, that the buttocks are not a sexual organ, we reject this argument, which runs counter to case law, and common sense.

Oh my gawd! The butt is a sex organ?

We also find that the material is, in the context presented here, patently offensive as measured by contemporary community standards for the broadcast medium. Turning to the first principal factor in our contextual analysis, the scene contains explicit and graphic depictions of sexual organs. The scene depicts multiple, close-range views of an adult woman's naked buttocks. In this respect, this case is similar to other cases in which we have held depictions of nudity to be graphic and explicit.

Have the FCC gurus never been to a beach? Protect us from Coppertone ads.

Turning to the second factor in our contextual analysis, although not dispositive, we find that the broadcast dwells on and repeats the sexual material. We have held that repetition and persistent focus on sexual or excretory material is a relevant factor in evaluating the potential offensiveness of broadcasts. Here, the scene in question revolves around the woman's nudity and includes several shots of her naked buttocks. The material is thus dwelled upon and repeated.

Excretory material. Why do they keep refering to excretory material? Oh.... her butt. Remind me to send a complaint to FCC about those toilet paper ads with the bears or that cute baby's bottom.

With respect to the third factor, we find that the scene's depiction of adult female nudity, particularly the repeated shots of a woman's naked buttocks, is titillating and shocking. ABC concedes that the scene included back and side nudity, but contends that it was "not presented in a lewd, prurient, pandering, or titillating way." ABC asserts that the purpose of the scene was to "illustrate[] the complexity and awkwardness involved when a single parent brings a new romantic partner into his or her life." Even accepting ABC's assertions as to the purpose of the scene, they do not alter our conclusion that the scene's depiction of adult female nudity is titillating and shocking.

Yes, I'm sure this scene was shocking and titillating (I can't use the word titillating without laughing to the only person in America who missed the graphic content warnings in front of the episode. I'm also sure it was shocking to the viewers who complained, watching NYPD Blue for the express interest of finding "shocking" scenes, Tivo'd it, and rewound and fast forwarded it many times so they could write their description of it for the FCC.

Let's jump to the fines.....

We therefore turn to the proposed forfeiture amount, which is based on the factors enumerated in Section 503(b)(2)(D) of the Act and the facts and circumstances of this case. On balance and in light of all of the circumstances, we find that a $27,500 forfeiture amount for each station would appropriately punish and deter the apparent violation in this case. Therefore, we find that each licensee listed in the Attachment is apparently liable for a proposed forfeiture of $27,500 for each station that broadcast the February 25, 2003, episode of "NYPD Blue" prior to 10 p.m.

In America, we do have Freedom of Speech...just watch what you say. The networks have done more than its fair share of work to warn you that the content may not be suitable for kids. As adults, we have to take some freakin' responsibility for our actions. Trust me, with all of the porgram ractices people watching and the delays built in to protect us, you won't be seeing anything offensive. Except maybe of a quick shot of this Bud Girl here on the right. Remember, it's not about the woman, it's about the product. Yummmmm! Enjoy the's not about the game anyway, right?!