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CBS challenges FCC ruling about Twila saying “bullshitter” on The Early Show

Last month’s shocking and appalling decision by the FCC to fine broadcasters over content is being challenged in court by the networks. The four major “networks filed lawsuits in federal appeals courts in Washington and New York to challenge indecency rulings against CBS, ABC and Fox involving coarse language,” The New York Times reports.

One of those is another reality TV-related incident, one that escaped my notice last month because it occurred on The Early Show, and because it resulted in no fine for CBS. On the December 13, 2004, episode of The Early Show on CBS, Survivor Vanuatu contestant Twila Tanner said another cast member was a “bullshitter.”

That sent the FCC into convulsions, as they said her language was “shocking and gratuitous” and comparable to “fuck” as “one of the most offensive words in the English language,” according to the FCC’s report. In addition, the FCC called it “one of the most vulgar, graphic and explicit words describing excrement or excretory activity in the English language.” Apparently, no one there actually poops because their asses are so tight.

However, the FCC did not fine CBS, saying that its “precedent at the time of the broadcast did not clearly indicate that the Commission would take enforcement action against an isolated use of the ‘S-Word.'” Still, CBS and the other networks said in a statement that the FCC “acted arbitrary and failed to provide broadcasters with a clear and consistent standard for determining what content the government intends to penalize.”

Showdown Over Indecency? [CBS News]
TV Networks Sue to Challenge F.C.C.’s Indecency Penalties [New York Times]

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About the author

  • Andy Dehnart

    Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how it’s made and what it means.

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