WBUR cites marathon reporting in endorsement of looser FCC indecency standards

By Andrew Lapin

Boston’s WBUR joined NPR and other news outlets in recommending that the FCC relax indecency standards, citing its reporting of the Boston Marathon bombing as an example.

In a July 17 letter, WBUR General Manager Charles Kravitz asked that the FCC ease up on its “zero tolerance” approach to the airing of profanity in news and cultural programming. Kravitz noted that when the station aired hours of continuous live coverage of the bombing and its aftermath, “the potential for inadvertent indecent language was always present. It was virtually impossible to report on this unfolding story without the real danger of profanity ending up on our air.”

When WBUR must remain constantly on guard for potential inadvertent FCC violations, it affects the station’s ability to program effectively, Kravitz added. “Recently, we decided no longer to carry a live public event with some of the most distinguished thinkers in Boston because of the dangers of fines if profanity crept into any of the presentations,” he wrote.

NPR filed its own, similar comment to the FCC in June.

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