Live sports are considered crown jewels of over-the-air radio programming. But the unpredictable nature of live broadcasts can keep radio station officials on their toes.

Case in point: Detroit Lions Head Coach Matt Patricia was interviewed on the radio following the team’s tough loss to Buffalo. During the interview, the exasperated Patricia dropped a dreaded “F-bomb” in describing the Lions’ struggles.

Womble Bond Dickinson explored the potential issues for broadcasters in a new Radio Ink column. It has been three years since the FCC took adverse action against a broadcast station for indecent, profane or obscene content. In 2013, the FCC sought public comments about possible changes to its indecency policy, including whether or not isolated expletives (such as Patricia’s F-word) should be considered indecent.

“To date, the FCC continues to struggling with what is indecency,” Garziglia writes. “To say that the FCC’s indecency policies and the application of those policies throughout the years has been mercurial is an understatement.”

So while no action has been taken against the station for Patricia’s outburst, Garziglia said it could result in the FCC imposing a substantial fine, should someone file a complaint.

Click here to read “The FCC and the F-Word – An Update” at Radio Ink. Womble Bond Dickinson attorney Gregg Skall assisted with this article. 

John Garziglia represents radio and television broadcasters, offering personalized assistance in all areas of communications and telecommunications law including transactional and contract negotiations for broadcast station mergers and acquisitions, the securing of financing, governmental auctions of new frequencies, license renewals, new stations applications, facility changes, facility upgrades, licensing, and compliance with FCC rules, regulations and policies.