Wanted: Better FCC indecency complaint stats

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The Federal Communications Commission has released its latest broadcasting indecency complaint statistics, and as usual they are a roller coaster affair. In the first quarter of 2008, the number of complaints for "indecency/obscenity" shot up to 108,919 in January, then dropped to 10,825 in February, then collapsed to 1,187 in March. In the second quarter of the year, April's stats briefly rose again to 24,068, then fell to 679 and 311, respectively, in May and June. This repeats the wildly fluctuating pattern of the last three years, when complaints have risen from 179 to over 160,000 in a matter of months. These numbers stand in stark contrast to the FCC's stats for "general criticism" (whatever that means), which tend to stay constant from month to month. In the first three months of 2008, for example, they came out at 193, 487, and 270. And so, once again, Ars wonders whether the agency's indecency/obscenity statistics reflect spontaneous viewer response to the level of erotic/linguistic friskiness on TV or solely on the power of coordinated campaigns launched by groups like the Parents Television Council.

It's time for the FCC to more fully disclose the nature of these complaints, answering at least the following three questions.

1) How many come from web auto-forms?

2) Who filed these complaints?

3) Did the complainer actually see/hear the program?

Wanted: Better FCC indecency complaint stats