Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Will & Grace beat indecency rap
Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Will & Grace passed the indecency test at the FCC on Monday as the agency rejected complaints against the popular TV shows filed by two conservative-leaning interest groups. The complaints, filed by the Parents Television Council and Americans for Decency, were dismissed in a 5-0 vote because the commission found the shows didn't violate its indecency regulations. Both shows were aired in prime time. The PTC, one of the more active groups on the indecency front run by L. Brent Bozell, complained to the commission about an episode of Buffy that aired April 22, 2003, on WDCA, a UPN affiliate in Washington, D.C. In the episode the characters Spike and Buffy fight before having sex, according to the order. "The commission noted that there was no nudity and there was no evidence that the activity depicted was dwelled upon or was used to pander, titillate, or shock the audience," the commission said in a release.
Americans for Decency, a Phoenix-based group run by T.C. Bundy that claims as its mission statement that it wants to "reduce sexual violence and victimization" by "educating about the danger and harm of pornography," contends that a single episode of Will & Grace that aired March 31, 2003, on Fox affiliate KSAZ in Phoenix was indecent. In the episode a "woman photographer passionately kissed [a] woman author and then humped her [what she called a 'dry hump']," according to the order. While the commission did not say that a "dry hump" is always within the bounds of the commission's rules on broadcast propriety, the panel did note that "both characters are fully clothed, and there is no evidence that the activity depicted was dwelled upon or was used to pander, titillate, or shock the audience."
Indecency has become a hot topic in Washington, but it exploded as a public-policy concern following increased use of versions of the f word on the air and the Super Bowl halftime show. Since then, the FCC has taken steps to increase fines for indecency and toughened its regulations for exactly what makes up indecency. Congress also has gotten in on the act, with both houses approving legislation that substantially increases the fines for indecency. The legislation has yet to become law. The commission defines indecent speech as language that, in context, depicts or describes sexual or excretory activities or organs in terms patently offensive as measured by contemporary community standards for the broadcast medium.