back to article ABC fined $1.43m for NYPD Blue a*se flash

The Federal Communications Commission declared last Friday it would fine Disney-owned ABC network $1.43m for broadcasting a revealing episode of cop show NYPD Blue before the watershed in violation of regulations prohibiting the broadcast of obscene material between 6am and 10pm. Specifically, material is deemed indecent if it …


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  1. Laurent_Z
    IT Angle


    Yeah, I know. /coat.

  2. Johnny FireBlade

    The Oxo Tower strikes again!

    "Although ABC argues, without citing any authority, that the buttocks are not a sexual organ, we reject this argument, which runs counter to both case law and common sense."


  3. Andrew


    Sounds like a "bum rap" to me.

  4. Anonymous Coward

    Excretory organs?

    Funny how legal and medical terms take all the romance out of something, isn't it?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Isn't it surprising,

    to find that the country which is the worlds largest producer of pornography is filled with such a bunch of prudes.

  6. Anonymous Coward


    "If a broadcaster makes the decision to show indecent programming, it must air between the hours of 10pm and 6am"

    Why isn't Fox News only shown in these hours, then?

  7. Gavin Grayson

    Sounds like...

    .. most of the FCC take it up the a*se on a regular basis then if a buttock is deemed to be a sexual organ...

    /pedant mode

    The excretory organ part is also nonsense as it's the anus rather than the buttock...


  8. Ryan
    Thumb Up

    Still waiting for that Pics? icon

    And a pic, while we're on the subject. :¬D

  9. Christoph

    It's a bum rap

    Presumably it would have been perfectly decent if she had been wearing a microscopic thong?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Q for visiting Americans

    hello visiting Americans, a question, in friendship: do any of your museums or galleries feature sculptures with, say, a bare marble bottom on show? In Europe, where History comes from, we have lots of these, and visiting children seem to leave untroubled.

    If you *do* have them - what's the deal with TV bottoms? Why so much more indecent?

  11. Steve

    Get a grip, America.

    It's only a woman's arse. Now, if it was Sipowicz running around in the buff, I could understand the uproar.

  12. Andy

    SO you can show shooting and other violence....

    ...but a woman's buttocks is offensive.

    Talk about screwed priorities! (of course, you can't say the word 'screwed' until after the 10pm watershed).


  13. cor
    Paris Hilton

    When is an asshole not an asshole?

    So every time their d1ckhead president appears before 10pm they should be fined too.

  14. Daniel Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Bunch of a*se.

    I'm sorry but WTF? Does this mean that every episode of Baywatch needs to be shown after the watershed? A string bikini doesn't exactly cover the buttocks now, does it?

    Paris because a*se is her specialty.

  15. Chris Collins


    Unless it was a picture of her barking spider then surely there's no smut. If you're watching TV at 9pm at night I don't see how you could be traumatised by mere buttocks. Perhaps the US could consider taking up the burkha.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    Time to get the burkahs out

    Just why are American organisations so uptight about the human body? I mean, you'd think they'd never seen one and didn't have one. If the buttock is a sexual organ then so is every other bit of skin, if you know what you're doing. Oo'er Missus.

    And we all know that there is always a small number of people who thrive on being offended by anything and everything, using it as a means to control what everyone else is allowed to do, say and see. Of course in a country in the size of the US you're going to get "numerous complaints", but they're from nutters! Stop encouraging them!

  17. Gavin McMenemy

    It's also weird...

    That a country which must be the worlds biggest purveyor of violent imagery reels in shock as soon as a nipple or buttock is on screen.

  18. Edward Rose

    What !?!

    I see loads of mouths on TV...

    Along with what Gavin said, the cheeks are for comfortable seating, what else?

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Compare Spamford Wallace

    And in other news, Spamford Wallace get fined $10,000 and slapped on the wrists.

    Weird contry.

  20. Anonymous Coward

    if the buttocks are a sexual organ

    because some people want to put their winky there, does that make the armpit a sexual organ because there are some people into a bit of tromboning?

  21. Simon Oxlade

    Swift Justice

    from 2003???

  22. Christoph Hechl

    Well if showing an a*se on tv gets that expensive

    ...then we will probably see no more tv debates of presidential candidates?

    And btw:

    "..depicts or describes [...] excretory activities [...] in a patently offensive manner..."

    Doesn't this directly refer to all of George W's statements about pretty much anything?

    Now that i think of it: Doesn't this endanger tv alltogether? Or at least make it ridiculously expensive?

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sex vs violence

    Smallville. Apple-pie superheros. And drowning torture. Perfectly fine.

    NYPD Blue. Apple pie cops. And norty bums! Burn them!

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Once again...

    the whole world laughs at America.

    Re: Flippant comments about the burkah.

    Considering that the skin is part of the excretory system then these comments should be given careful and serious consideration. Whilst lawyers decide whether the skin falls within the definition of an organ everybody on American soil had better cover up just to be sure.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What about mamaries?

    So, if by their logic buttocks are a sexual/excretory organ (laughable in it's own merit), does boobs qualify as a sexual organ as well?

    So, next thing you know they will lash on a crusade to lock in for good mothers who are breast feeding their babies for being kiddy fiddlers and having oral sex with an infant, surelly?

    The mind boggles.

  26. Anonymous Coward


    > Now, if it was Sipowicz running around in the buff...

    I, for one, would pay good money to see that!

  27. Graham Bartlett

    @Chris Collins

    "Barking spider"? That's one piece of euphemism that passed me by, I'm afraid...

  28. GrahamT


    I wonder what age a US child would be that would still be up after 9pm on a school night? (25th Feb 2003 was a Tuesday - And why did it take 5 years to get to court?)

    The Watershed in Britain is 9pm, and we show much more than buttocks after that time, since school age children are assumed to be in bed by that time. (In reality they are probaly watching on the set in their bedrooms.)

    The Continent is even more liberal - I have seen bare-breasts on a French circus show on children's television, and a naked opera singer on German TV early in the evening. Their kids seem to grow up as sexually undamaged as any other kids - though less hung up about nudity.

    As a matter of interest, are kids allowed to see killings and violence on US TV pre-watershed? Our latest outcry about pre-watershed shows, concerned someone being stabbed in the leg.

  29. Neil


    Definately an excretory organ, and by using their definition a sexual organ as well.

    Offends me, I demand that only torsos are shown on TV!

  30. Les Matthew
    Thumb Up

    @Graham Bartlett

    number 7 at the bottom of the page. ;)

    The chocolate starfish was a new one for me too.

  31. Spleen

    Sexual organs

    The buttocks are indeed a 'sexual organ', in the sense that men find them attractive to look at. It's a hangover from when we as a species, like most animals, tended to have sex from behind. In that sense the FCC is right, though as has been adequately covered, their prudery is still stupid.

  32. Alan
    Thumb Down

    What is it with the USA authorities?

    Check this link to see the "offending" clip

    We see that amount of naked flesh during prime time TV in the UK on a regular basis.

  33. Joe K

    Why is anyone surprised?

    The country was founded by religious puritans.

    Nothings changed.

    Oh and it was also founded with invasion, greed and murder.

    Again, nothings changed.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    What do you mean "tended to have sex from behind"?

    Missus and I indulged in some this morning! Does it mean we are regressing?

    And this whole logic fails. Do q quick search on evolutionary psichology here at El Reg and there are plenty of examples.

  35. David Cornes

    Amazing place

    Don't you sometimes find America a most amazing country?

    They have been world leaders in developing tolerance of gay and alternative lifestyles.

    They are probably one of the largest producers of pornography in the world (I'm told ;-), and we're not just talking soft-core, but full-on extreme stuff too.

    Their censors go ape-shit over first a few seconds of bare female arse (not the spelling US cousins: an ass is a small donkey). Not being displayed in an erotic context mind, but as what almost sounds as a comedic scene.

    They drive us mad sometimes - ok A LOT of the time - but ow wouldn't the world be a duller place without 'em??!

  36. E_Nigma
    Thumb Down

    Why Stop There?!

    I think they should have fined them more! The TV viewers saw an arse, but God knows what horrors that innocent boy who appeared in the scene had to endure! // I am not serious about this, of course, but I will be in the next paragraph.

    So... when we're in the shower bare bottomed, there's something sexual or excretory natured going on? Why is it damaging for a child to see a naked human body? And more to the point in this case, a kid may not understand sex, but we are all naked in the shower and I can't see how confusing and harmful can it be to see a quite natural act a child is already familiar with.

  37. Spleen


    Depends. Did you take the opportunity to pick insects off her back while you were getting down?

  38. Luther Blissett

    @ Spleen

    > The buttocks are indeed a 'sexual organ', in the sense that men find them attractive to look at.

    If I found spleens attractive to look at, that would make them a 'sexual organ'? More specifically, do you mean "all men", "some men" or "men", or is the quantifier an irrelevant noise word?

    > It's a hangover from when we as a species, like most animals, tended to have sex from behind.

    This is an objective intellectual prejudice and a subjective titilation. You just like the idea.

    > In that sense the FCC is right, though as has been adequately covered, their prudery is still stupid.

    To get real these days you first have to get unhyperreal. The FCC is 'right' only in the sense that since the meeja circus around Clinton and Monica has defined their playtime as 'sex' (a hyperreal sex), the FCC is taking a stance consistent with that view, and prudery is irrelevant. Speaking for myself I've never seen a bull and cow get busy with a cigar, tho when I lived in the country I frequently saw them get busy - do you suppose they're missing out? Animals have rights too y'know.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Re: Spleen

    Not really, but there was some biting involved.

    Anyway, staying on the topic, lots of ppl pointed out that the mouth may qualify as a sexual organ and the skin is a excretory organ, so what gives? I can't fathom how the puritans come up with this stuff. Didn't they used to air E.R before watershed (never lived there, so I wouldnt know)?

    I guess seeing enthrails is less "offending" (whatever that means) than a bit of skin. Same goes for games... I remember God of War being bashed relentlessly in a wide range of forums for a showing some (lovelly) ladies topless, notwhithstanding the fact that 10 secs before that scene the character was (literally) tearing enemies in half.

    Again: the mind boggles.

  40. Bob

    Stands out above everything else that's wrong with this.

    "Commissioner Deborah Taylor Tate said of the judgement: "Our action today should serve as a reminder to all broadcasters that Congress and American families continue to be concerned about protecting children from harmful material and that the FCC will enforce the laws of the land vigilantly."

    Big Brother is watching YOU

  41. Juliette Martens

    Ban it all, dammit!

    I completely agree with the Censor; we should be protected from any view of something as perverted as the human body. That also goes for those three-wall mirrors in fitting rooms where I have been known to catch sight of my own female buttocks (sometimes even before 10pm!!).

    Shooting and mutilation is ok, as long as it's not in any erogeneous zones.

    Mine's the one with strap-on attached, please.

  42. Samantha Clinton

    I for one... all for their censors coming over here forthwith. Did anyone else see Supersize v Superskinny last night?


    /mine's the one with the overflowing sick bag in the pocket

  43. Jeffrey Nonken

    We're not all prudes. Or idiots.

    Some of us Americans think this is as bloody stupid as the rest of you do.

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