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FCC complaint is at the center of ABC's and Adam Lambert's woes [Updated]

Getprev Adam Lambert's urging to fans not to be upset with ABC for canceling his upcoming appearance on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" is making more sense today. On his Twitter page Wednesday night, Lambert explained "It's the FCC heat," a statement that ABC has declined to address.

The "FCC heat" comes from a complaint filed by Liberty Counsel on Nov. 24 against ABC, demanding that the network pay a financial penalty "for airing such an outrageously lewd and filthy performance during a show and time period that is targeted for family audiences."

In the complaint, Liberty contends that Lambert's Nov. 22 performance was both obscene and indecent and urges that the FCC take action against ABC. Liberty Counsel is a nonprofit public interest law firm that is closely tied to the late Rev. Jerry Falwell's Liberty University and provides legal assistance in defense of "Christian religious liberty, the sanctity of human life and the traditional family."

Although ABC did receive about 1,500 complaints from viewers about Lambert's highly sexualized performance, dozens of Lambert fans have been complaining about ABC's decision to cancel Lambert's "Good Morning America" interview and now the "Kimmel" performance. Many of those critics say Lambert is being targeted because he is a gay male, as Janet Jackson, who opened the American Music Awards, grabbed the crotch of a male dancer and went unscathed by critics.

The director of cultural affairs for Liberty Counsel told The Times today that his firm was not aware of Jackson's performance.

"The issue is not so much about homosexuality, although I believe the preponderance of Americans find public hyper-sexualized acts of homosexuality particularly off-putting," Matt Barber said. "But the issue was more of indecency and what is decency. And frankly the issue is one of law. We believe this performance met the threshold for violation of federal law and violation of FCC regulations. And the Supreme Court has held time and again that there’s not a First Amendment right to engage in public indecency as evidenced by the outcry and complaints that poured into ABC. We believe that this violated contemporary community standards in terms of what is and what isn’t decent."

But "Kimmel" airs well after 10 p.m., the cut-off time the FCC has set for when indecent material cannot be broadcast. Lambert's AMA appearance occurred at 10:55 p.m. [Updated at 12:51 p.m.: It was edited for the West Coast, but the timing could be an issue in the Central Time Zone, which would have seen it at 9:55 p.m.]

"I would say this is inappropriate period," Barber said. "This is not HBO or some of these cable networks where that type of indecency and filth has come to be expected. This is television where people just flipping through channels could have stumbled onto that. People unaware of what’s coming down the pike in terms of the indecency being performed. And it’s just really, frankly, not appropriate for network television, period, to mimic one man performing oral sex on another man."

ABC executives declined to be interviewed and issued a statement that didn't explain why the network continues to disinvite Lambert from his scheduled appearances: "We decided not to move forward with the booking at this time." Lambert's publicist on Thursday declined a request for an interview with the artist but said, "We respect what [ABC] says."

ABC also canceled Lambert's appearance on "Good Morning America" last week, saying the network was concerned he would give another controversial performance "so early in the morning." During an interview on "The Early Show" on CBS, Lambert conceded the adrenaline got the best of him on stage and the acts in question were not featured in his rehearsals.

Lambert will still appear on ABC's Barbara Walters' "The 10 Most Fascinating People of 2009" on Dec. 9 at 10 p.m. presumably because there is no live performance involved.

-- Maria Elena Fernandez

Photo: Lambert at the AMAs; Credit: Getty Images


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Comments () | Archives (94)

Isn't Falwell and the word Liberty used in the same sentence an oxymoron? Perhaps McCarthy University would make more sense?

I've been trying not to cry "homophobia" regarding this episode but it's becoming more and more difficult to stay away from that word as this saga drags on. Female performers have been engaging in these antics for years and no one cares. The Liberty Counsel isn't even aware of Janet Jackson's performance? Sorry but if you object to sexual displays it should be across the board not just gay sex. And Jackson's performance was actually during the time the FCC monitors programming for indecency unlike Lambert's performance. It's becoming more and more apparent to me that homosexuality is the crux of this situation for both the Liberty Counsel and ABC.

I can understand a lot of people considering Adam's performance as tasteless, even disgusting but this Mr Barber is going to hell while thinking he is buying heaven...and Iam a catholic straight mother of three

Hey maybe if we call of the homophobes 'homos'they'll stop!

This IS descrimination, and there's nothing the FCC can do after 10:00 p.m. If the networks don't like it, change the rules at the FCC and extend their gramp over the 10:00 hour material.

What homos.

"Rev. Jerry Falwell's Liberty University-in defense of Christian religious liberty"?
the Christians always, Christians=KKK=IKA (oppress African Americans, Jews and other minorities and intimidate and oppose Roman Catholics and GAYS) all are christians but paradogically = communist.

What is this all about? Adam Lambert did nothing wrong. so sad.

Nonsense. ABC is full of "lewd" content -- on the AMAs, on sitcoms ("Two and a Half Men" is especially raunchy), on soap operas -- yet the only sexually suggestive act that gets singled out just happens to be the one performed by a gay man. Frankly, I think Liberty Counsel is run by a bunch of closeted, self-loathing gays; that's the only explanation as to why they would be so fascinated with and obsessed by Adam Lambert's sexuality. In addition, I can't help but wonder if this group, which is affiliated with a Christian fundamentalist university that openly shuns non-Christians, also is targeting Lambert because he is Jewish. Whatever the case, there is nothing here to justify ABC cancelling three scheduled performances, two of which were going to air late at night and one of which was going to be pre-taped. ABC's actions have gone far beyond censorship; this is nothing more than blacklisting, plain and simple. I won't be watching this network anymore.

ABC promoted Adam's appearance as “outrageous” and “something everyone will be talking about tomorrow” throughout the AMA broadcast? Seems to me ABC got exactly what they expected. And after all the other risqué numbers that night, my only surprise is that anyone would have thought Adam's performance would be anything but risqué.

ABC used him for ratings (over 24 million viewers, best since 2002 and ONLY 1500 complaints, what is that less than one percent) as Adam has a large following, and then dumps him like this. Well, hopefully other performers are taking note - because tomorrow it could be them! This is what happens when an 800 pound gorilla is in charge. The little people have to band together for the cause lest we all get squashed.

Adam didn't commit any crime and this is way out of hand. I think ABC is promoting bigotry, prejudice and double standard. They used Adam to get ratings and then dump him like this citing the FCC as a reason. I called the FCC and the person I spoke with said that while they can make sanctions (and I don't even know if in fact there are going to be any) that the FCC does not control or dictate network programming. Therefore, it is not the FCC that is saying Adam cannot be on the network. I have also sent a polite and business like letter to the FCC in support of Mr. Lambert.

In regard to a risqué performance or "kids show" perhaps after the opening act where Janet Jackson grabbed the male dancer's crotch blatantly, to another performer coming on stage with the dance troop and rifles in hand, to another performer and her dancers doing air pelvic trusts, to another performer humping the microphone, to another performer breaking whiskey bottles on a piano, to another performer talking about how there were something like 18 rapes under his belt and murder, to.... a parent or prude might have had a clue that it was full of adult content. And Adam came on last! He was caught up in the moment after seeing his piers and while risqué, was not anything that hasn't been done before. Parents are responsible or their children, not Adam or the AMA's. And if you are a prude, then you should not have been watching that show as the whole thing was risqué and/or filled with violent undertones.

A lot of people don't even watch TV anymore, and especially not network shows. I will not be watching ABC and have let ABC know that their prejudice is outrageous. I am the mother of a son Adam's age and would not want this hate targeted to anyone. All this is doing is proving ABC is a bigot and illustrating vividly their double standard. Adam will be around because he has a huge fan base and mega talent that will prevail. I will be supporting Adam with my pocket book and NOT supporting ABC or its sponsors.

There is nothing the FCC is going to do about this. There was no nudity and it was shown after 10:00 pm. If was aired at central time at 9:55 that was up to logal programing to monitor that. This quote says it all!

The issue is not so much about homosexuality, although I believe the preponderance of Americans find public hyper-sexualized acts of homosexuality particularly off-putting

There you go. I have written to ABC and will not be watching their shows anymore I don't need big brother telling me what I can or can't see. People always have the option of changing the channel. Although I doubt any of these right wing gay haters were watching the show out of enjoyment.

Can ABC Make themselves look more fools? NO.

OMG!!! I'm so afraid of these "correct" jerks!!!
Spooky times ahead of us!

You state in your article that ABC says it is not appropriate for network television to mimic one man performing oral sex on another? What about finding the same act done by Pink on her performance inappropriate? If you were going to find one act indecent than why not another? ABC has gay relationships portrayed in Desparate Housewives, Grey's Anatomy AND Days of our lives. I would also much rather have seen his performance of something like that than hearing eminem rap about rape, and Rhianna using assault rifles in her performance. The bottom line is that Adam LAmbert deserves to be treated like a human- being.

Madonna does a bunch of shocking, sexual stuff during performances and she's lauded for being "innovative" and "daring."

A gay dude does it and everybody's panties are in a wad.

People being killed for no good reason offends me. Some guy kissing some other guy during a musical performance doesn't even make the radar screen.

what about the rest of the show... there was one performance that must have been "bleeped out" over 2 doezen times... the whole show has to be in question.

This is crazy. They don't KNOW about Janet's act, but they are picking on Adam? They presumably missed Eminem's performance, too? They also happened to miss every "lewd and carnal" act that ABC puts on during prime time, and just happened to catch Adam's closing song???

This is homophobia, and these people should be ashamed of associating themselves with a word like liberty.

I am with Em, that is what we, Adam's fans, have to do, I will support Adam. ABC went too far.

I will be boycotting anything related to ABC, except for appearances and performances of Mr. Lambert. That includes boycotting products and services of any company that advertises on ABC - - - - - - - - particularly those companies who regularly advertise on the shows from which Mr. Lambert has been "disinvited". I have never seen so much hoopla over nothing - - - - I think all of Mr. Lambert's fans should do the same - I think there are a lot more of us than the nay sayers that ABC seems to be so afraid of.

ABC hit the wrong button. They hit the audio censor instead of the video. The lyrics were clean yet we couldn't hear the song but we saw the guy facing the belt. LMAO.

BLAME THAT GUY. We all know about this Liberty thing. But thanks for covering it.

Finally, proof of antigay bigotry behind the Lambert fallout. Matt Barber, the speaker for the Liberty Counsel, has made it his career to ruin the lives of gay people. A notorious homophobe, he has made slanderous statements and outright lies about gay people. He is at the forefront of any efforts by the right to deny any equality, civil rights, protections, or anything else for gay people. A simple Google search will prove this. Barber hides behind Bible based bigotry, slams gay people as immoral perverts simply for trying to live their lives, and on and on. He's a very, very loud religious fanatic. The Barbers of the world must be stopped because they use religion as a weapon to force their bigotry on others. They are Christian fascists. Forget "Liberty" - they don't care about your liberty at all, only theirs.

When is the LA Times, or any other news outlet, going to expose Barber for the dangerous religious fanatic he is?

Has anyone seen the Liberty Counsel complaint filed to the FCC. Google it... it's all about complaints of homosexuality. They are discriminatory and it's against the law.

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