Parents group urges FCC to crack down on CBS over Super Bowl profanity

The Parents Television Council urged the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Monday to take action against CBS for airing a curse word during its coverage of Sunday's Super Bowl.

Immediately after the game ended, an exuberant Joe Flacco, the Baltimore Ravens's quarterback, could be heard saying "f---ing awesome" to one of his teammates.


“Despite empty assurance after empty assurance from the broadcast networks that they would never air indecent material, especially during the Super Bowl, it has happened again,” Tim Winter, the Parents Television Council's president, said in a statement.

“No one should be surprised that a jubilant quarterback might use profane language while celebrating a career-defining win, but that is precisely the reason why CBS should have taken precautions," he said. "Joe Flacco’s use of the f-word, while understandable, does not absolve CBS of its legal obligation to prevent profane language from being broadcast — especially during something as uniquely pervasive as the Super Bowl."

CBS has been involved in years of legal battles after it aired a split-second view of singer Janet Jackson's partially exposed breast following a "wardrobe malfunction" during the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show.

“Now nine years after the infamous Janet Jackson incident, the broadcast networks continue to have ‘malfunctions’ during the most-watched television event of the year, and enough is enough," Winter said.

A CBS official said that to silence any possible curse words the network delays its pre-game coverage, halftime show and post-game coverage, but not the game itself. Flacco cursed immediately after his team defeated the San Francisco 49ers and before CBS was able to switch into delayed post-game coverage.

CBS declined to comment further on the incident.

It is illegal to air indecent or profane programming before 10 p.m. on broadcast television. Winter noted that the incident occurred before 10 p.m. except on the East Coast.

For several years, the FCC declined to issue any indecency fines, noting that its authority was in legal limbo. The broadcasters argued that the fines violated their constitutional right to free speech.

The Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the indecency ban seven months ago.

At the time, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said that, consistent with constitutional protections, “the FCC will carry out Congress’s directive to protect young TV viewers.”

The FCC has yet to issue any fines or draft any rules on the issue since the court decision.

Hundreds of thousands of complaints, many of them filed by the Parents Television Council, have accumulated at the FCC.

"After more than four years of inaction on broadcast decency enforcement, the FCC must step up to its legal obligation to enforce the law, or families will continue to be blindsided,” Winter said.

The FCC did not respond to a request to comment.