CBS Explains Inaction on 'Without a Trace'
CBS Explains Inaction on 'Without a Trace'
Kris De Leon
Kris De Leon
Staff Writer, BuddyTV
CBS airs out their side for not taking any remedial action after the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) found the crime drama series, Without a Trace, indecent back in 2006.

The FCC proposed a record $3.6 million fine against CBS and other station owners for airing an episode of Without a Trace that contained a scene of “teenage boys and girls participating in a sexual orgy” in 2004. On the other hand, the network said that it strongly disagrees with the FCC’s findings.

Without a Trace, a show about a FBI unit that investigates into a person’s disappearance “featured an important and socially relevant storyline warning parents to exercise greater supervision of their teenage children.  The program was not unduly graphic or explicit,” the network said in a statement back then.

CBS did not suspend any station employees nor conduct an internal investigation after the FCC proposed the fine.  In attempt to shed light to its inaction, the network sent a two-page letter to the FCC trying to explain what appeared to the Parent Television Council to be a noncompliance with an agreement CBS parent Viacom struck with the commission in 2004 to expunge a raft of indecency complaints.

The letter also said the CBS did not think it had to take various steps spelled out in the agreement, including suspend employees and investigate the incident, since NAL was against a scripted drama, rather than a live, unscripted show like a morning radio program that an employee would need to bleep or edit.

CBS also emphasized that if the FCC disagreed with that interpretation, the network's failure to do so have been at most an "unintended omission" in an otherwise extensive, good-faith effort to comply with the agreement.  The effort included installing editing systems at radio stations, audio and video delays at TV stations and training staffers about compliance with indecency laws.

-Kris De Leon, BuddyTV Staff Columnist

(Image courtesy of CBS)