PUBLISHED MONTHLY
EST. May 2000 (AD)

 
 

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TV Station Fined for Hot Antics Over Chili

By Carol Leonetti Dannhauser

Public Access Television will be fined a whopping $239 about half of its annual budget by the FCC for airing a glimpse of housewife Carol Leone's breast during a videotape broadcast of her NBA basketball championship party last June.

The fine comes on the heels of similar actions against Clear Channel Communications, which recently paid a $1.75 million penalty for broadcasting the indecent antics of Howard Stern.

Leone called the occurrence a wardrobe malfunction. "I'm so sorry," she said " had no idea this could happen. I never lost my sweater, sweatshirt and T-shirt while stirring a pot of chili before."

Yeah, right, said regulators. "When will people in America learn that free speech does not mean you can say anything you want!" FCC Chairman Michael Powell exclaimed upon leveling the penalty. He had hoped the fine against Clear Channel would be deterrent enough against other flagrant violators. "For one to toss aside these public benefits and demand another pound of flesh suggests that nothing short of economic ruin or license revocation will truly satisfy." Powell told Reuters news agency.

Sources who viewed a 12-second clip of the basketball party videotape said Leone was stirring a pot full of her famous turkey-vegetarian chili when she reached up into the cabinet for some cumin. Right then, a male guest brushed up against her, removing Leone's sweater, sweatshirt and T-shirt, exposing a stretched-out and downright ugly graying white bra that hiked up over her left breast. The move occurred during the game's halftime festivities, as the male guest performed his rendition of the Los Angeles Lakers fightsong.

A local authority, police Sgt. I. M. Wright, said the police department switchboard was flooded with complaints after the videotape aired. "We cannot allow salacious programming to be aired in America, "Sgt. Wright said. "A breast at the kitchen table, fergodsakes. What's next? Sex on soap operas?"

Approximately eight viewers called to complain about the program, which Sgt. Wright believes represents 10 percent of the 80 people who regularly tune in to Public Access programming each week. Complaints varied from concerns about the breast to basic hygiene in the kitchen. "For crying out loud," one viewer shouted, "she wasn't even wearing a hairnet while she was standing over that chili." Another chortled, "Why is it that people who eat turkey and chicken insist on calling themselves vegetarian?"

While he refused to comment on the issues raised by the vegetarian, Sgt. Wright did say that the videotape was replete with sexual innuendo. The saggy breast was not the only violation. Using a highlighting pen more commonly utilized by commentators to illustrate plays during sporting events on television, Sgt. Wright circled a sausage atop two meatballs in one dish. "This is blatant indecency," he said, citing federal regulations, which bar television stations from broadcasting graphic sexual references and obscene material.

Sgt. Wright said that Leone and Public Access TV got off easy. The FCC considered fining them for other actions that occurred during their basketball championship, such as foul language (several guests reportedly uttered curse words when they missed winning the office betting pool), lewd dance moves (one guest slithered by another to get at the keg on the deck) and lasciviousness. (Leone's comments about Lakers coach Phil Jackson being "a hogtie" were captured on tape).

©2004 Carol Leonetti Dannhauser


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Carol Leonetti Dannhauser is a writer who makes a mean turkey vegetable chili.