FCC Fines, Indecency And CBS

WITHOUT A TRACE stars (left-to-right, rear) Eric Close, Anthony LaPaglia and Marianne Jean-Baptiste and (front, left-to-right) Enrique Murciano and Poppy Montgomery
This column was written by CBS News Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith.
What follows might be viewed by some as being beneficial to my continued employment at CBS. But, this is not about sucking up — though if you have any pointers, please e-mail me.

I read last week that the FCC was fining 111 CBS stations for airing what the FCC deemed was an indecent episode of the series "Without a Trace." The finable material was an orgy scene involving teenagers. The show's producers say it was integral to the story, and in fact defended it by saying the scene they hoped would be a wakeup call for parents.

How does the FCC judge these things? Well certainly, according to the FCC, based on complaints. Are people really offended? And why are they watching if they are?

We live a drillian channel universe; surely there's something else to watch.

As for "Without a Trace:" At the conclusion of each episode, the show does a segment about a real-life missing person — often a kid — asking the audience for help in finding them.

It must feel like no good deed goes unpunished.

Harry's daily commentary can be heard on manyCBS Radio News affiliates across the country.

By Harry Smith