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Nudity may cost ABC $1.4 million

From Times Wire Services

The Federal Communications Commission said Friday that it planned to fine Walt Disney Co.'s ABC network $1.4 million for airing an episode of “NYPD Blue” in 2003 that showed a woman’s nude buttocks.

The company said it opposed the fine and planned to appeal.

The FCC said it was seeking $27,500 for each of 52 stations in the Central and Mountain time zones that aired the scene in the 9 to 10 p.m. time slot in violation of federal restrictions against broadcasting “obscene material” between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.

The agency has waged a battle against broadcast indecency under Chairman Kevin J. Martin. In October 2006, Congress authorized a tenfold increase in such fines. Broadcasters’ use of public airwaves subjects them to more regulation than cable channels.

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The FCC said it received “numerous complaints” about the scene, in which a young boy walks in on a nude woman about to take a shower.

Stations in the Eastern and Pacific zones won’t be fined because they aired the episode in the 10 to 11 p.m. slot, local time.

ABC said in a statement that it had broadcast the episode and others from the police drama, which ran from 1993 to 2005, with appropriate parental warnings and with V-chip-enabled program ratings when they were available.

“ABC feels strongly that the FCC’s finding is inconsistent with prior precedent from the commission, the indecency statute and the 1st Amendment,” network spokeswoman Julie Hoover said.

“The law is simple,” FCC Commissioner Deborah Taylor Tate said. “If a broadcaster makes the decision to show indecent programming, it must air between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. This is neither difficult to understand nor burdensome to implement.”


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