ERPM signed a letter endorsing comments that demonstrate to the Commission that there is a chorus of support from within the public broadcasting system for its proposal to adopt a more relaxed and reasonable enforcement policy.  

July 18, 2013

By Electronic Filing
Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary
Federal Communications Commission
445 Twelfth Street, SW
Washington, DC 20554

Re:       Reply Comments of the Public Radio Regional Organizations
Adopting an “Egregious Cases” Enforcement Policy (GN Docket No. 13-86)

Dear Ms. Dortch:

The undersigned are the leaders of the four public radio regional organizations comprised of 200 stations located in all four corners of the nation, whose purpose is to represent the views of our members on issues that impact local stations. We write to support the Commission’s proposal to adopt an “egregious cases” approach to indecency enforcement. In doing so, we endorse the comments filed by National Public Radio (NPR) on June 19, 2013. Such an approach would significantly lessen the chilling effect currently imposed on responsible broadcasters like our member stations, and ultimately help them better fulfill their public service missions.

Public radio stations are nonprofit organizations that are committed to providing the highest quality news, public affairs and cultural programming available today.  Perhaps more importantly, local stations strive to provide what the commercial market does not—in-depth coverage of people and events where, to the greatest extent possible, the voices of actual participants, observers, and related ambient sounds are used to facilitate deeper understanding of the events being described. In applying this unique approach, public radio stations like our members are exceedingly careful not to offend the sensibilities of their audiences.

However, on occasion, public radio’s journalistic efforts give rise to potential indecency violations under the Commission’s current “zero tolerance” approach, particularly where unintentional, spontaneous utterances are captured during live taping, or where potentially indecent words or phrases are so essential to the audience’s understanding of the issue at hand that removing them would significantly impact the quality of the program. In these instances and others that occur in the course of public radio programming, use of potentially indecent language is never intentionally profane or gratuitous. But the Commission’s current approach, coupled with the prospect of massive fines, creates a degree of risk and uncertainty that severely constrains the editorial judgment of local programmers, and ultimately impacts program quality. As responsible broadcasters that provide a clear public benefit, public radio stations should be afforded discretion to serve their local communities without facing the prospect of crippling fines.

Furthermore, as noted by NPR, the Commission’s current policy has led to the delay of station license renewals where an indecency complaint is pending—even if the complaint is clearly without merit. Delayed license renewals force stations—many of which operate under significant financial constraints—to incur additional legal costs. Already-scarce resources should not be diverted from community service.

Accordingly, in support of the comments of NPR, we urge the Commission to adopt an “egregious cases” indecency enforcement policy. Doing so would go a long way towards addressing the issues identified above.


Glenn Gleixner, General Manager, WVTV
Chairman, Eastern Region Public Media

John Hess, General Manager, Boise State Public Radio
President, Western States Public Radio

Christina Kuzmych, General Manager, Wyoming Public Media
President, Public Radio in Mid America

Frank Lanzone, General Manager, KCBX
President, California Public Radio