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Fox's 'Family Guy' raking in the indecency complaints


If you think Santa Claus gets a lot of mail, that's nothing compared to the Federal Communications Commission's Enforcement Bureau, the part of the regulatory agency that handles indecency complaints.

Tim Doyle, a reporter for industry consulting firm SNL Kagan, went to the trouble of filing a Freedom of Information Act to get a little information about just how many complaints the FCC is sifting through and what shows are the biggest offenders.

Before we get to what shows are getting the most complaints, let's look at the backlog of indecency complaints at the FCC. Doyle reports here that at the end of last year the FCC had a walloping 1.45 million pending complaints and 12,049 open cases. 

The program that is keeping the FCC most busy is Fox's animated sitcom "Family Guy." A March 2009 episode alone generated almost 200,000 complaints, according to Doyle's arithmetic. I missed that episode, but Doyle's story on it said the show included a plot line involving horse semen. We don't know if that was the one that got the show an Emmy nomination or not, but either way the folks at "Family Guy" probably don't have a lot of friends in Fox's Washington, D.C., office at the moment.

Usually, if a show generates that many complaints odds are it had some help from an advocacy group that got its membership to take part in a mass mailing. We're not playing connect the dots here, but the first quote in Doyle's story about the high number of complaints involving "Family Guy" is from Dan Isett, a director of the Parents Television Council, a media watchdog group that is no fan of the show.

But a complaint is a complaint in the eyes of the FCC. The high volume around "Family Guy" could become a big headache for the network if the commission were to go after the show. A Fox spokesman said, "We take any inquiry seriously and respond to each in an appropriate and timely fashion." Of course, the above-mentioned episode of "Family Guy" is not the only one that's been noticed by the FCC. There are thousands of other complaints about various episodes of the show piled up at the regulatory agency.

There are some other amusing tidbits amid Doyle's findings, including one that shows the risk of panning the stands of a football game. Fox got almost 150,000 complaints when it showed a fan at a football game wearing a shirt that suggested the Philadelphia Eagles do something to themselves that is probably physically impossible.

And perhaps we can do a little public service here. Folks, the FCC does not regulate content on cable networks, especially premium channels, so stop sending in complaints about HBO's "Big Love."

-- Joe Flint

Comments () | Archives (60)

Shut Up Dan Isett

Wow, when did America become such a country of sissies and whiners? How about if you don't like it..you don't watch it? That's why I don't watch the Fox News Network...

Change the station if you don't like it.

If it's too indecent, change the channel.

I love this show. I know it's rude, offensive, obnoxious, stupid and even silly but it is so funny.

FG is funny & that gives it great freedom, healthy freedom, to go after just about anything. We're all better off if we just let them keep making their cartoons. And Dan Isett - there are so many things to be angry about, go and do something constructive.

Three shows, all the same. Packed with simple-minded, sophomoric and scatological humor. I'll never understand why Fox turned over Sunday night to Seth's nonsense.

Don't like Family Guy? Then don't watch it. Problem solved!

Isett and people of his bent want to regulate what others watch under the "moral" banner. If they don't like the content, then turn their tuners to the 700 club or better yet, turn off the tube and read your bibles. Problem solved. Stop trying to control the rest of us.

This may not be entirely related, but I'm amazed at how many Christians who align themselves with the right-wing watch Fox News all day long, yet seem to have no qualms about the "filth" produced by the entertainment arm of THE SAME COMPANY. Same owner (Murdoch), same building, same CEO. This is some serious hypocrisy.

Yeah, shut up Dan Isett. Stop trying to control what we watch. If parents don't like it they can TURN THE TV OFF OR CHANGE THE CHANNEL. Capiche? Get a life, loser.

Family Guy cleary states is not a kiddie show and warn everybody to use discretion. If you don't like the show simply change the channel, don't watch it.

Why would anyone ever write a complaint letter about any television show? If one sees something one doesn't like, turn it off or change channels; but please don't try to censor or dumb down the medium, and don't foist your personal "moral" beliefs upon the rest of us. "Family Guy" rocks!!

Don't like it? DON'T WATCH IT!

great article, very interesting.

Thank God for the FCC. Think of what we might be exposed to if it weren't for their vigilance. And thank God for the bible-thumpin', moralistic, snake-handlers of the world, keeping me safe from any impure thoughts.

People need to get a life. If they don't like the show then do watch it. I personally love the show! The show has a great writting staff and pretty much mak efun of everyone (no one is left out). It appears that people need to find better things to do with their time, then complain about a TV show.

Seriously, someone should lodge a complaint to Dan Isett. And he wants people to donate to him. Hey Dan Isett, shut up.

Jeeze. This is like that old joke "The food there is terrible... and the portions are too small". If Family Guy offends you, then don't watch it.

The success of "Family Guy" and "South Park" are just proof that despite so many Americans remaining uptight, the majority of Americans have moved past political correctness and view such constraints as ridiculous.

Family Guy is the Lenny Bruce of adult cartoon shows.

Thank you SM.

No sense of humor people. cry louder you bunch of losers! Stop complaining and turn off the TV

Lisa Simpson once described this as a fiendishly clever money-laundering scheme. Fox airs "indecent" programming, the FCC fines them, Fox pays the fine, and the FCC turns the money over to the Republican National Committee.

Good thing it's only a joke. Or is it...?

I'm not a fan of Dan Isett, a director of the Parents Television Council, a narrow-minded media censorship group that apparently is not aware that his television has an on-off button but wants to control yours.

If you people don't like it--don't watch it !!!!!

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