(CNSNews.com) - The Federal Communications Commission Thursday said the f-word is both indecent and profane, contrary to an opinion issued earlier by its staff.
Press reports said this is the first time the FCC has called a four-letter word "profane," but the ruling didn't go far enough for one TV watchdog group.
FCC Chairman Michael Powell said Thursday's ruling should serve as a warning to broadcasters "that they could now face significant penalties for similar violations."
But the FCC said it would not fine NBC for an f-word utterance by U-2's Bono during the 2003 Golden Globe Awards.
"This is [expletive] great," Bono said on live television last year, prompting outrage from pro-family groups.
Those pro-family groups were even angrier when the FCC later ruled that Bono's expletive was not indecent -- and therefore did not violate the law.
On Thursday, the FCC commissioners said that Bono's expletive did indeed violate indecency standards, but the commissioners voted 3-2 against fining NBC over the incident.
Powell said Thursday that although the FCC now considers the f-word indecent, NBC would not be fined "retroactively" for Bono's comment. "Given that today's decision clearly departs from past precedent in important ways, I could not support a fine retroactively against the parties," Powell said.
The Parents Television Council said the FCC's latest ruling on the f-word "does nothing to hold NBC accountable for [an] obvious breach of commonsense decency standards."
Said PTC President L. Brent Bozell III, "Bono may have used the f-word as an adjective, but today's FCC ruling turned it into a verb directed at American families."
See Earlier Stories:
FCC Ruling on 'F-Word' Fires up Pro-Family Groups (18 Nov. 2003)
Congressman Calls Proposal on F-Word 'Partial Victory For Families' (14 Jan. 2004)