Vice Squad
Friday, April 13, 2007
FCC Extends Chicago Cubs Playoff Run.... 6.4 seconds, at least for those listening on radio. In the "Inside Media" column by Teddy Greenstein in today's Chicago Tribune comes this short notice:
WGN-AM 720 has instituted a 6.4-second profanity delay for its Cubs broadcasts. So if you want to listen to the game while at Wrigley Field or prefer the radio team of Pat Hughes and Ron Santo while watching at home, you're out of luck. A WGN spokesman said not instituting the profanity delay would have posed a liability risk.
I realize that the Cubs tradition is to drive their fans to muttering the occasional imprecation, but do we really need this? I have listened to countless hours of Pat and Ron over the years, and do not recall ever hearing any profanity (though I would not be surprised if the odd curse slipped out). Six-point-four seconds might not sound like a lot, but this delay will essentially eliminate, as the notice suggests, listening to the radio broadcast while at the ballpark or watching on TV; I believe, in fact, that the delay will render listening in those circumstances to be even more nightmarish than the Cubs's play.

The FCC claims that obscenity complaints can be denied if the profanity, within the "overall context of the programming," does not rise to the level of indecency, but it is not clear if Cub futility makes a finding of indecency more or less likely.

Maybe the delay can be removed in the last few innings? Many losses by the North Siders are only assured after 10PM, and at that time, indecent (but not obscene) broadcasting is safe from FCC sanction.

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