FCC Slaps Virginia TV Station With $325,000 Fine for ‘Explicit Sexual Material’

Offending image was broadcast during a news report on a porn actress turned rescue squad volunteer

WDBJ-TV is about to receive some stiff punishment from the Federal Communications Commission.

The FCC is recommending a $325,000 fine for the Roanoke, Virginia, CBS affiliate for broadcasting “extremely graphic and explicit sexual material.”

Specifically, the FCC says, the station aired “a video image of a hand stroking an erect penis” during a news report.

The $325,000 fine is the maximum that the Commission can levy against the station.

According to the FCC, the offending image poked onto the screen at approximately 6 p.m. during a news report on July 12, 2012. The report concerned a former adult film star who had joined a local volunteer rescue squad. The station acknowledged to the Commission that it had aired the imagery, following complaints to the FCC.

The FCC’s report says that the footage was licensed from a website of a company that distributes the actress’s films. Unfortunately, the station aired an image of the website, which is bordered by boxes that show video clips from other films, one of which “contains the image of a sexual activity involving manipulation of an erect penis.”

“Although the box does not show the entire body or face of the apparently nude male depicted, the image shows a hand moving up and down the length of the erect penis,” the Commission noted.

The station claimed that the smaller boxes were not visible in the monitors of its editing bay, causing the news director and others to overlook them, and asserted that it was displayed “for less than three seconds.”

The station argued its innocence on a number of fronts, including that the “extremely fleeting and partial image of penis during a news story” does not constitute a violation of the FCC’s rules — apparently, to no avail.

WDBJ declined to comment to TheWrap on the fine.

Is the FCC’s decision firm but fair, or did the commission go too hard on the station? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.