Moving into the 21st century, the United States Department of Justice on Friday dismissed a lawsuit on Friday stemming from the appearance of pixelated strippers on a 2003 episode of FOX reality show Married By America.
In the episode, blurred images from bachelor and bachelorette parties were aired. The original fine from the Federal Communications Commission was for a total of $1.2 million from 169 FOX stations, amounting to $7,000 each. All of the affiliates paid except four that refused, leading to the lawsuit.
Although the government did not explain why they dropped the suit in the federal court filing, the dismissal was likely a result of a Supreme Court decision in July that ruled the FCC did not give FOX stations "fair notice" before it took action for allowing expletives to air.
In a statement released by FOX, the network said its view "has consistently been that the FCC's fine had no foundation within the law, and we are grateful that the DOJ and FCC have now agreed with this position. In addition, we plan to urge the FCC to dismiss its underlying forfeiture order in this case, a move that will ensure that the Fox affiliates who paid the fine upfront do not unfairly suffer any negative consequences related to their broadcast licenses in the future."
Under chairman Julius Genachowski, the FCC has not been as aggressive in pursuing indecency charges against television stations. In fact, the FCC has not brought forward a new indecency case since President Barack Obama took office in 2009. Recently, Genachowski stated that the commission is reviewing its policy on the issue and determining if going after stations for minor infractions is the best use of government resources.
Is it just me, or does this seem like a massive waste of time and money? A total of $28,000 in fines that haven't been paid for pixelated images of strippers from a nine-year-old episode of a show that nobody even remembers? Really?