LOS ANGELES – Last year's Janet Jackson (search) Super Bowl fiasco cost CBS $500,000. FOX got hit with a $1 million fine for the racy content of its reality show "Married by America." (search) And the Federal Communications Commission (search) will probably continue handing out heavy penalties to broadcasters in response to growing public outrage.
Viewer complaints about indecent broadcast content have skyrocketed, from 350 a year in 2001 to nearly 300,000 last year. But the networks say TV watchdog groups like the Parents Television Council (search) are stacking the deck.
Critics of the PTC say the group doesn’t just teach people how to file complaints but actually campaigns for them in mass e-mail alerts. In fact, most indecency complaints are generated by or funneled through activist organizations, leaving some to wonder if the government is letting them regulate programming.
The PTC says every complaint comes from a concerned person. Its opponents say most of those filing haven’t even seen the content in question.
The FCC admits getting to the heart of the matter will be tricky, since the government agency doesn’t have the resources to do the comprehensive accounting required.
Click in the video box above to watch a report by FOX News' Trace Gallagher.