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‘Family Guy' No. 1 for Indecency Complaints

March 1, 2010
By James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.
contributor to

The Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Enforcement Bureau has a mailbox chock full of indecency complaints.

SNL Kagan, an online research organization, acquired the numbers on complaints coming into the FCC via a Freedom of Information Act request.

By the end of 2009, the FCC had a backlog of 1.45 million pending complaints and 12,049 open cases.

So what broadcast TV network garnered the most complaints?

That would be Fox TV.

Fox's animated sitcom, “Family Guy,” pulled in the most complaints among those filed. A March 2009 episode of the show in which a baby drank horse semen with his breakfast cereal brought in 188,368 complaints alone.

Thousands of complaints about other episodes of Seth MacFarlane’s family unfriendly cartoon show poured in as well. The sizable amount of indecency complaint letters for the program could present a problem for executives at the network if the FCC starts implementing fines.

Thanks to “Family Guy” and sports programming, almost 50 percent of the top 50 television indecency grievances sent to the FCC involved Fox shows.

When it comes to cable television, the No. 1 indecency complaint getter is CNN. Wolf Blitzer’s “The Situation Room” received the highest cable complaint count due to a Jack Cafferty rant against China on a show that ran in April 2008.

On another indecent note, this time international, Paris Hilton has riled authorities in the Brazilian government.

A spokesperson for Brazil’s Secretariat for Women's Affairs (BSWA) wants an advertisement that Paris appears in to be removed from the airwaves because of its racy content. So says The Associated Press.

In the ad, Hilton is seen posing in a little black dress while rubbing a can of Devassa (translates to “naughty”) beer on herself as onlookers peer through a window.

The BSWA cited several complaints that were received concerning the ad campaign.

Three separate investigations have been launched by the country’s advertising watchdog.

“It's an ad that devalues women — in particular, blonde women. The problem with the ad isn't a lack of clothing, but its sensual nature. A woman in a bikini on a beach isn't necessarily sensual; it depends on the context,” a spokesperson for the BSWA said.

Hilton tweeted a response via Twitter.

“Are they serious? So ridiculous,” she wrote.

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