FPN ACTION ALERT: FOX Airs Four-Letter Expletive in Sunday NASCAR Race

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The nationally-televised March 26, 2006 broadcast of the “Food City 500″ NASCAR race on the FOX network included an audio broadcast of an angry pit crew chief using profanity. (CAUTION: This audio clip contains profanity.) The incident violated broadcasting guidelines set forth by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which preclude networks from airing such language when families may be tuning in. The rules apply even when such incidents are part of live broadcasts.

Family Policy Network President Joe Glover filed an official complaint with the Federal Communications Commission [that] evening, charging that “NASCAR and FoxSports have a responsibility to keep profanity off of broadcast television, especially during daytime hours on Sunday afternoon when so many families are watching.”

A recent ruling by the FCC found:

“The ‘S-Word’ is a vulgar excretory term so grossly offensive to members of the public that it amounts to a nuisance and is presumptively profane. Like the ‘F-Word,’ it is one of the most offensive words in the English language, the broadcast of which is likely to shock the viewer and disturb the peace and quiet of the home.” (See Item #81; FCC RELEASES ORDERS RESOLVING NUMEROUS BROADCAST TELEVISION INDECENCY COMPLAINTS: March 15, 2006.)

The FCC will only sanction local FOX television stations for this infraction, and only if a complaint has been made by a citizen. Therefore, it is important that as many citizens as possible file a complaint with the FCC.

If you or someone you know watched the March 26 broadcast of the “Food City 500″³ NASCAR race on the FOX network, please be sure a complaint similar to the one FPN filed Sunday is made to the FCC about the FOX station in your area. Then encourage your friends in other local television markets to do the same.


SUPPORTING DOCUMENTS:

  • Click here to see the FCC complaint filed by FPN President Joe Glover
  • Click here to hear the audio from Sunday’s incident involving profanity during NASCAR on FOX (CAUTION: This audio clip contains profanity.)
  • Click here to file a complaint about Sunday’s FOX race broadcast
  • Click here to urge your friends in other TV markets to file an FCC complaint, too!

NEWS COVERAGE:


Profanity on Sunday Afternoon TV Broadcasts:
NASCAR, Networks Aren’t Serious – Families Must Call on FCC to Act

by FPN President Joe Glover – March 27, 2006

NASCAR has a profanity problem. It seems that every now and then, a participant in a nationally-televised race will violate the FCC’s clear rules against uttering vulgar terms on daytime television and “let one slip” on the air.

On one hand, leaders of the sport want families to think they’re against it. On the other hand, they don’t seem to want it to stop.

Sunday’s FOX television coverage of the “Food City 500″ NASCAR race included an audio transmission of an angry pit crew chief using the “S-word.” (CAUTION: This audio clip contains profanity.) It wasn’t the first time a NASCAR personality used profanity on television on a Sunday afternoon. And, despite NASCAR’s statements and the FCC’s recent willingness to prohibit such utterances, it certainly won’t be the last without public complaints for FOX’s negligence on Sunday.

NASCAR’s television coverage (on NBC and FOX) has become increasingly popular over the last few years, while the content has simultaneously pushed the envelope on what constitutes “family-friendly” sports broadcasting. Just one year after banning tobacco advertising in NASCAR to improve its family-friendly image, the same decision-makers reversed a long-standing ban on liquor advertising. Meanwhile, with sponsorships for beer, sex-enhancing drugs and other questionable advertisers at an all-time high, fights and bad language have become all-too-common, despite appearances by the sport’s sanctioning body to punish the offenders.

In March of 2004, NASCAR fined driver Johnny Sauter $10,000 and docked his team 25 championship points for using inappropriate language in a broadcast interview following a race at Las Vegas. In May, driver Ron Hornaday got a similar punishment for an inappropriate remark he made during a radio interview at Dover, Delaware. In October, popular driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. used profanity during a live NBC television interview after a NASCAR race in Talledega, Alabama. He received the same punishment as Sauter and Hornaday. Last March, Shane Hmiel got fined after he was seen on FOX’s sister network “FX” making an obscene gesture to Dale Jarrett during a national broadcast from Bristol Motor Speedway.

To their credit, NBC voluntarily instituted a 5-second delay in their live NASCAR broadcasts. Apparently, NBC knows NASCAR isn’t serious about preventing the problem, and took action on their own. FOX has yet to demonstrate any such responsibility.

At some point, you have to wonder if NASCAR is really serious about establishing a family-friendly environment for their radio and television audiences. After all, $10,000 is hardly a stiff fine for a race car superstar that makes millions of dollars from prizes and endorsements each year. The championship points taken from drivers made little or no difference in the final standings.

It appears NASCAR is doing little more to clean up its bad-boy image than to slap a few drivers on the wrist. If it really wanted to clean up its image, NASCAR would establish tougher penalties for bad behavior, and require all broadcasters covering their sport to establish a ten-second broadcast delay like they did for the National Football League at the Super Bowl.

At first glance, Sunday’s incident (CAUTION: This audio clip contains profanity) may not seem to be the fault of the FOX network, since it was a slip of the tongue by a pit crew chief in the heat of an angry moment. In fact, the offender probably didn’t know his words were being broadcast.

Then again, it’s not like the network couldn’t know it would happen. With so much discussion surrounding previous profanity infractions occurring at emotionally-charged moments in the past, the producer should have known better than to air live comments from an angry pit crew chief after a crash had knocked his driver (and tens of thousands of dollars in equipment) out of the race.

Perhaps the immediate apology offered from the broadcast tower would have appeased some of the parents who were suddenly forced to explain to young children watching that the pit crew chief shouldn’t have used such language. But the same announcer blew it when his apology turned into a defense of the crew chief’s language when he said, “…but the frustration is evident this late in the race when things happen.”

The FOX television network already knows it can’t claim the live nature of Sunday’s broadcast prevented it from keeping the “s-word” off the air, since the networks have been warned about their responsibility in airing inappropriate content during live broadcasts in the past. In fact, one such warning came as recently as two weeks ago, when the FCC handed down its final decision regarding the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show involving Janet Jackson’s naked breast.

In its report, the Commission stated that “CBS consciously and willfully failed to take actions to prevent (emphasis added) the broadcast of the material, and that CBS is responsible for the halftime show.” On the same day, the FCC said it found “several television programs containing offensive language” to be “indecent and profane.” It determined, “Where material is found actionable, the Commission sanctions all licensees whose stations are the subject of viewer complaints filed with the Commission.”

The FCC’s recent rulings on obscenity and profanity represent bad news, good news and a challenge to decent citizens. The bad news is that some famous people, including some in NASCAR, don’t have the decency to keep their gutter language off of national television. The good news is the FCC is willing to stop them and they’ve begun to prove it in recent years.

The challenge to decent citizens comes in the FCC’s unwillingness to take action against the networks. Instead, the FCC will only sanction local television stations for which the Commission receives complaints. That means citizens who want to keep profanity off of daytime television must take the time to tell the FCC that they object to the profanity that was broadcast on their local affiliate.

It’s too bad NASCAR and FOX aren’t determined to keep profanity off of the air. Hopefully, families will heed the call to urge the FCC to do it for them.

Joe Glover, M.Div. is the President of Family Policy Network.


ACTION ITEM:

  1. Click here to see the FCC complaint filed by FPN President Joe Glover
  2. Click here to hear the audio from Sunday’s incident (CAUTION: This audio clip contains profanity.)
  3. Click here to file a complaint about Sunday’s FOX race broadcast
  4. Click here to urge your friends in other TV markets to file an FCC complaint, too!

RELATED INFORMATION:

FCC action against stations airing offensive language.
http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DOC-264344A1.pdf

FCC Guidelines on obscenity, indecency and profanity:
http://www.fcc.gov/eb/oip/

Family Policy Network:
http://familypolicy.net/


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