FCC chairman personally excuses Boston Red Sox player’s televised f-bomb

By Stephen C. Webster
Sunday, April 21, 2013 19:46 EDT
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Federal Communications Chairman Julius Genachowski, who announced his retirement last month, said Saturday that Boston Red Sox player David Ortiz would not receive the regulatory agency’s scrutiny over his use of the word “fucking” during an impassioned, off-the-cuff speech.

“This is our fucking city and nobody’s going to dictate our freedom,” Ortiz said on a live broadcast Saturday, in comments delivered ahead of the city’s first baseball game since two bombs killed three and wounded more than 140 at the Boston Marathon.

“David Ortiz spoke from the heart at today’s Red Sox game,” the FCC’s official Twitter account declared Saturday evening. “I stand with Big Papi and the people of Boston – Julius.”

Fleeting expletives, once sternly forbidden by FCC decency guidelines, softened in 2010 when the New York Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that imposing massive fines for a “single, non-literal use of an expletive” during live broadcasts is unconstitutional. At the time, a pro-censorship group called the Parents Television Council (PTC) lobbied Genachowski and President Barack Obama to appeal the ruling, calling it “nothing less than a slap in [the] face” of concerned parents.”

When the Supreme Court finally did weigh in last June, justices determined that the FCC still has a big role to play in policing content on the nation’s airwaves, but that fleeting expletives on live broadcasts cannot be punished as indecent because the current standards are too vague and networks did not have prior notice of potential enforcement.

The FCC began taking public comment on proposed revisions to the agency’s decency standards (PDF) on April 1, in a review launched by Genachowski after the Supreme Court’s ruling. And since they’re asking the public to pinpoint what exactly should be considered indecent, the PTC is again conducting an online pressure campaign, lobbying to impose harsh penalties on people like Ortiz.

“And as we all know, if you give the networks an inch, they’ll take a mile,” the group warns. “So if this rules change goes into effect, we can expect to see an explosion of sex, profanity and graphic nudity pouring into our homes over the public broadcast airwaves.”

Given his comment Saturday, it would seem that Genachowski sees things differently.

This video was snipped by Sports Grid, published Saturday, April 20, 2013.


Photo: Flickr user US Mission Geneva, creative commons licensed.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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