1988 December 23

FCC Bans All Indecency on Radio and Television


As directed by a new federal law, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on this day banned all alleged “indecency” on radio and television, replacing an existing policy that had allowed “indecency” between midnight and 6 a.m.

See the important Supreme Court case, Federal Communications Commission v. Pacifica (July 3, 1978), involving comedian George Carlin, in which the Court held that Carlin’s “seven dirty words” were indecent.

The FCC’s current standard: “The FCC has defined broadcast indecency as ‘language or material that, in context, depicts or describes, in terms patently offensive as measured by contemporary community standards for the broadcast medium, sexual or excretory organs or activities.’ Indecent programming contains patently offensive sexual or excretory material that does not rise to the level of obscenity.”

Learn more about the FCC’s regulation of indecency: http://www.firstamendmentcenter.org/madison/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/FirstReport.Indecency.Levi_.final_.pdf

Read: Fredrick S. Lane, Decency Wars: The Campaign to Cleanse American Culture (2006)

Go to the FCC web site for their policies on “Indecency and Obscenity”: http://www.fcc.gov/topic/indecency-and-obscenity

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