The Associated Press reported yesterday that a host of media heavyweights, including Viacom Inc., Fox Entertainment Group Inc., the American Civil Liberties Union and the Screen Actors Guild joined a protest against the FCC?s recent ruling that Bono?s use of the word — oops! almost typed it! — was indecent and profane. While the commission didn?t impose a fine on the U2 singer or on the network, since the ban had never been explicitly stated in its guidelines, it did levy two penalties against Infinity Broadcasting (a Viacom subsidiary) and one against Clear Channel Communications.
The coalition of protesters issued a statement charging that the ruling against Bono ?[was] chilling free speech across the broadcast landscape.? They noted that the ruling would have far-reaching consequences, and force broadcasters to abandon live programming and to edit classic rock songs.
The FCC has not issued a statement in reference to the petition for reconsideration. It?ll be interesting to see whether Bono, who has his hands full with the battle against AIDS in Africa, will try to stay under the radar on this issue and let others storm the barricades. But it?s a safe bet that, in this hyper-sensitive climate, Bono?s next acceptance speech will be short and sweet. Emphasis on sweet.