The Federal Communications Commission, clarifying its tough new policy on broadcast obscenity today, said radio and TV stations can air more explicit programming after midnight, when children are unlikely to be watching.
On a 4-0 vote, however, the commission refused to modify its April ruling, which affirmed the agency's authority to regulate the broadcast of "obscene, indecent or profane language" and issued new standards on decency more strict than its previous yardstick, the so-called "seven dirty words."
At that time, the FCC said it would apply "the generic definition of indecency . . . language or material that depicts or describes in terms patently offensive as measured by contemporary community standards for the broadcast medium, sexual or excretory activities or organs."
In April, the commission also said stations could no longer assume no children were watching after 10 p.m.
The National Assn. of Broadcasters, Action for Children's Television and other groups criticized the policy statement as too vague and confusing to radio and television stations. They asked the commission to clarify it.
Responding to the petitions, the FCC decided, among other things, to reinstate a time after which broadcasters can assume its audience is adult.
The new cutoff time will be midnight.