The FCC's cable crackdown

Aug. 30, 2005 | A 2003 episode of the short-lived Fox comedy "Keen Eddie" features a woman described as a "filthy slut" who is hired to "extract" semen from a prize thoroughbred. "That's not natural," the prostitute protests. "Think of it as science," says the man offering to pay.

Though the episode featured no actual extraction -- off-camera the woman lifts her shirt and the horse suddenly drops dead -- some Americans complained, finding the scene inappropriate for prime-time television.

The Federal Communications Commission disagreed. In the majority opinion, the commission decided the sequence was not intended to "pander, shock, or titillate." The decision, however, was not unanimous.

Commissioner Kevin J. Martin, whom President Bush has since appointed FCC chairman, thought Fox stations should be fined. "Despite my colleagues' assurance that there appeared to be a safe distance between the prostitute and the horse, I remain uncomfortable," Martin wrote at the time.

Though Martin lost the battle over horse extraction, he is now poised to win the broader indecency war.

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