Entertainment Industry

« Previous | Company Town Home | Next »

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)

If people are offended by Family Guy, change the channel or turn off the tv. problem solved People should know what to expect when they are watching that show. I, for one, will keep watching. The parents television council reminds me of the pmrc. Get a life, people.

I've actually never heard of this show. But now that I know right-wing fanatics want to stop me from seeing it, I'm going to make a point to watch.

Family Guy would appreciate the irony of people telling Dan Isset to shut up. LOL

Stipulated that FG is filthy and funny. That's why we watch it. Furthermore, the FCC's attempts to control content violate the 1st amendment. How do you like them apples?

Why is it that in a democracy -- which last time I checked, the most fundamental concept is that the majority of the good citizens of a country rule -- how is it then that a miniscule % of people file a complaint and they are taken seriously? The infamous Janet Jackson wardrobe malfunction at the Super Bowl (that has indirectly caused way-too-safe half time shows since) was watched by over 90 million people. Now, not all were watching the halftime show, so let's say that roughly half were watching when the evil boob popped out or around 45 million. Now the FCC receieved something like 350,000 complaints about said boob with a star taped over the vile nipple. That amounts to 0.0077% of the people watching complained and the FCC came down with a wrath like the half time show involved Jenna Jamison and the starting defensive lines from one of the teams. Last I checked, that's no where NEAR a majority! Why do they get to say what's indecent? Why do they get to dictate who the FCC goes after? CBS was threatened with having EVERY SINGLE AFFILIATE fined over half a million dollars apiece! They didnt even have control over the feed!! And further more, these coalitions enlist thousands of people to file complaints about SHOWS THEY HAVE NEVER SEEN! I'm sorry, I was under the impression that you had to actually SEE SOMETHING TO BE OFFENDED BY IT! Go watch Disney Family channel and live your miserable lives with no true sense of humor and leave the rest of us intelligent people alone.

My problem with stories like this is that they don't differentiate between real complaints and the PTC "just click this button" complaints. The FCC doesn't break out the number, either. I'm not sure anybody knows. Just looking at the raw numbers, it's like we have broken the 6th seal. If there is anything that will hasten the big 4 networks going to cable distribution it is this issue and the outrageous fines that indecency complaints that can result.

Wasn't this the point of TV ratings in the first place. The rating warns people of the content in the show. If people want to "risk" the rating, they watch, if they don't then don't. It's part of the "freedom" that you're always talking about.

America grow up and watch something else .. always complaining about something idiotic that needs to complaints. Grow up and watch other channels ... Leave the normal people with their shows ...

I'm sure Seth MacFarland is thrilled to see this article. Sure 200,000 people complained, but how many people watched and loved it? I love when Family Guy makes me wince, it's sort of a backhanded reaffirmation of my own moral standings, that doesn't mean it's not also hilarious.

If you’re a good Parent you wouldn’t need something called the Parents Television Council. TV is not a babysitter. Try parenting, spending time and know what your kid is doing and let the rest of us watch what we want. I love Family Guy.

Family Guy goes way over the line of decency. Impose big fines on them and they will clean it up.

It also interesting to find the "form letter" formal complaints that come from places like an Albany, GA address complaining about the programming on a station in Albany, NY!

Whoops.... the PTC forgot to cross-reference those zip codes before submitting a complaint in one of their member's name!

Best show on TV!! Go to the Parents TV Council site, get the list of advertisers and thank them!!

The shoe is freaking hilarious!

99% of the PTC doesn't watch the shows they write letters about. Why would they?

They have one $7 an hour intern, sitting in a room, laughing hysterically and taking notes of what he liked.

Two things to the offended:

1) Change the channel.

2) Shut up and worry about yourself.

Family Guy lost me as a viewer when they showed a McCain/Palin button on a Nazi uniform. Not only was it insulting to an American war hero and inaccurate as well, but Obama's tactics then and now are more closely aligned with fascism than anyone else who's been elected to a U.S. office in recent memory. Yes, I changed the channel and never looked back.

Lots of @$$ licking and feces feeding, the perfect homoerotic sitcom.

Why do people (you know who you are) bristle at any whiff of censorship, then conveniently pull out the "if you don't like it, change the channel" flag and wave off any criticism as long as it's something they like? But, if it's something they don't like, like... oh, let's say Glenn Beck - they demand that the Fairness Doctrine be re-instituted, heads roll, and broadcast licenses be pulled.
Someone with a lesser sense of irony might detect a heapin' helpin' of hypocrisy.

Imagine a show that ridiculed racial groups, or homosexuals, etc. in a vicious, profane way. Does anyone doubt that this show would be ripped off the air faster than you could say 'Tipper Gore'? That is, if it even made it on the air in the first place. There is a double standard at play here. A culture rotting, left wing double standard. If you cruelly mock and stereotype that which is perceived to be traditional or conservative, or promote vulgarity, you're practicing free speech. If you're Sarah Palin responding to said filth, or decrying the culture rotting effects of it, you're stupid and evil. Yet, how many shrill, puritanical left wing groups do we have to endure, everytime one or more has an issue about something that made them cry, who then demand apologies and mass firing of staff? It's not the Christians that so dearly love political correctness and censorship. Conservatives never liked government agencies regulating everything - Lefties do. So whimper all you want about the FCC lefties. But, don't expect sympathy from those of us that warned you about government intrusion.

Our Country has fallen in to a pit a moral depravity. "Family Guy" is more a result of that depravity than it is the cause. Never the less, I will offer a prayer of thanks the day it goes off the air. Long Live the PTC!

I used to watch Family guy religiously.
It became extremely boring over the last 18 months.
I didn't complain about it.
I stopped watching it.

I'm in complete agreement here with most comments. I don't find the show funny. In fact, I'm one that finds it highly offensive - but I'll be the first to say I don't want the Government telling me what I can and cannot watch. The American public for better or worse needs to be the one to pull the plug on any show by simply changing the channel. If America wants it, America will watch it. No ratings? No revenue. Show dies. Show gone. Supply and demand. That's how it works.

I have watched this show from its first run to present day. It is funny most of the time, disgusting and in bad taste quite a times per episode, downright insulting to (pick your parentage). And, at the end of the day it is always the 'funny' part that keeps me watching. It is a dilemma at times. I have found myself changing the channel in disgust and saying that the show has gone too far but that 'funny' thing keeps bringing me back. Damn you McFarlane, stop being funny so I can maintain my indignation long enough to ween you out of my system.

« | 1 2 3 | »


Recommended on Facebook

In Case You Missed It...

Photos: L.A.’s busiest filming sites