FCC Cancels Some Indecency Fines

Broadcasting & Cable reports the FCC has repealed over a quarter of a million dollars in proposed indecency fines against a number of stations in Indiana and Tennessee.

The Indiana stations that had aired CBS's Without a Trace that included the objectionable scene of teen-sex party, aired the broadcast at 10 p.m. in the Central and Mountain zones when indecency broadcasts are protected, rather than at 9 p.m. when the broadcast could be fined (the indecency "safe harbor" is 6 a.m. - 10 p.m.).

The mix-up was caused by the fact that some Indiana stations make the switch to Daylight Savings Time, but the majority does not. Therefore, the majority were airing the episode after 10 p.m. The state has since passed a law to regularize the observance starting this weekend.

The Tennessee stations are all in the Eastern time zone, so they appeared to have simply been inadvertently included in the 111 stations fined for the program.

The stations now off the hook are WTHI Terre Haute, Ind.; WANE Fort Wayne, Ind.; WISH Indianapolis; WLFI Lafayette, Ind.; WSBT South Bend, Ind.; WVLT Knoxville, Tenn.; WDEF Chattanooga, Tenn.; and WJHL Johnson City, Tenn.

Each had faced a proposed fine of $32,500, which subtracts $260,000 from the approximately $3.6 million fine total for the broadcast on CBS affiliates. The network has publicly disagreed with the fines, and currently has 17 days to provide an explanation as to why they should not be held liable.