/// No Finger Flap Fallout Fines for M.I.A. Expected

February 6, 2012  |  Media Week

M.I.A.'s flip of the bird and bleeped-out fleeting expletive during Madonna's Super Bowl halftime performance may have caused a real flap, but unlike Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction in 2004, which led the Federal Communications Commission to slap a $550,000 fine on CBS, the FCC is unlikely to jump on NBC's affiliates and levy a fine for a fleeting finger gesture. For starters, the gesture, no matter what anyone may think of it, may not fall within the FCC's narrowly tailored definition of indecent or obscene, described on the FCC's website as “language or material that, in context, depicts or describes, in terms patently offensive as measured by contemporary standards for the broadcast medium, sexual or excretory organs or activities.” “It probably isn't illegal under the FCC rules,” said Scott Flick, a broadcast attorney with Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman. “You'd have a hard time arguing it.” Even the Parents TV Council, which lashed out at the NFL and NBC for breaking its promise to keep it clean, said it wasn't filing anything with the FCC. “The onus is on the NFL and NBC to announce a more effective policy and/or enforce whatever contract stipulation they had with their performers, if any.

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