FCC Requests Olympic Review

The Federal Communications Commission’s enforcement bureau has asked NBC for tapes of the opening ceremony of the Summer Olympics, apparently in response to one or more indecency complaints, sources said.

It is unclear who may have complained or what aspect of the broadcast may have prompted a complaint, said the sources, who disclosed the FCC’s request on the condition of anonymity.

A spokesperson for the FCC’s enforcement bureau, which investigates indecency complaints, would not confirm an investigation but acknowledged that the commission had received at least one complaint about the Aug. 14 broadcast. The receipt of even one complaint is enough to touch off an investigation by the FCC, which does not itself monitor telecasts for indecent content.

The Olympics’ opening ceremony included actors and actresses depicting two lovers dancing in the sea, a goddess of fertility and a pregnant woman whose belly glowed, according to an account posted on MSNBC’s Web site.

The FCC’s complaints-driven procedure has come under increasing scrutiny with the recent disclosure that more than 99 percent of recent indecency complaints—aside from those concerning the Super Bowl—have come from one group, the Parents Television Council. Critics say the PTC is attempting to impose its views of acceptable broadcasts.

The PTC says the source of complaints should make no difference to a process aimed at determining whether networks are illegally airing indecent broadcasts when children are likely to be watching.

But it also says the FCC is failing to count many thousands of its complaints.