CBS's WWFS-FM survives license challenge


Three individuals and a college group wanted the license renewal for CBS Radio’s AC WWFS-FM in New York turned down by the FCC. They say that CBS is "a serial and recidivist violator of the federal criminal statute proscribing indecent, obscene or profane broadcasts." But the problems they cite as evidence have either long since been resolved or did not occur at this station.

The petitioners cited programming featuring Howard Stern and Opie and Anthony. In both cases the programs in question were stale, and regardless, CBS has already entered into a consent decree with the Commission which settled the matter.

The petitioners also argued that the FCC lacked the authority to enter into consent decree agreements, and that such actions were entered into prejudicially. The FCC said the authority argument was without merit, and that situations cited involving minority licensees had nothing whatsoever to do with indecency and were not remotely applicable to the present situation.

The license renewal was granted and the petitions dismissed.

RBR/TVBR observation: When filing indecency complaints began to become a popular pastime, fueled by campaigns from the Parents Television Council, Morality and Media and other groups, it was a common complaint that few people had the tapes rolling to capture evidence of a breech of on-air decorum. Those days are largely over, as watchdogs and average citizens make use of an ever-growing arsenal of electronic recording devices. Many of the watchdogs make it their habit to monitor broadcasts with the virtual tape rolling.

Add to that the brand new 350K top-drawer indecency fines put into effect last year, and there is plenty of indecency-related fodder for broadcasters to keep top-of-mind without citizens dredging up golden oldies from five years ago. The FCC is to be commended for recognizing this fact and brushing such complaints aside.