April 4, 2008 / 11:52 PM / 10 years ago

Fox headed to court to overturn indecency fines

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Fox Broadcasting said on Friday that it would go to court to try to overturn indecency fines imposed on 13 Fox television stations after regulators declined to reconsider the fines.

The News Corp’s Fox Broadcasting said it would go to court to appeal the fines after the Federal Communications Commission declined a petition for reconsideration and the Department of Justice filed suit to collect the fines.

The fines were aimed at penalizing stations for airing episodes of the reality TV show “Married by America” in 2003.

“We look forward to the opportunity to present the full factual and legal arguments in the Married by America case to an impartial and open court of law,” Fox said in a statement.

The FCC said it had returned the Fox petition without consideration because the company had exceeded the number of allowable pages in its petition without asking for permission far enough in advance to exceed the page limit.

A spokesman for Fox said the U.S. Justice Department had then filed suit in four jurisdictions around the United States to collect the fines.

In its March 24 petition, Fox asked the FCC to review the penalties it imposed on 13 Fox stations by the agency on February 22.

The FCC voted to issue $7,000 fines to each of the stations to penalize them for broadcasting an April 7, 2003, episode of “Married By America” that featured “persistent sexual activities” from Las Vegas bachelor and bachelorette parties.

As part of the decision, the FCC sharply reduced the number of TV stations subject to the fines. In penalties it originally proposed in 2004, the agency had sought fines totaling nearly $1.2 million against 169 stations in Fox television network, which aired the show.

FCC rules prohibit TV and radio stations from broadcasting material that is sexually explicit or otherwise indecent, except late at night when children are not likely to be watching.

The “Married By America” program included scenes such as a topless woman straddling a man, whipped cream being licked off one woman’s bare chest and an underwear-clad man being spanked by two female strippers.

Reporting by Peter Kaplan; Editing by Gary Hill

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