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Top 5 FCC Viewer Complaints About 'Saturday Night Live'

By Deanne Katz, Esq. | Last updated on

Do you still watch "Saturday Night Live"? Millions tune in to NBC's popular sketch-comedy show every weekend, but some don't like what they see. Many have even submitted complaints to the FCC.

A website called filed a Freedom of Information Act request to get copies of FCC viewer complaints about "SNL." They're worth a read, because some are pretty funny, as Gothamist recently pointed out.

But when the giggles died down, we found ourselves wondering, could these complaints actually get "SNL's" actors or producers in trouble? Think about that as we take you through the Top 5 categories of "SNL" viewer complaints:

  1. Profanity. Lots of people complained about various swear words and inappropriate language on multiple episodes of "SNL." That could be a problem since certain language is not permitted on air. But some viewers complained they could still make out the profanity, even with the censor's bleep. In that case, the network is in the clear.

  2. Homosexual content. It appears that several sketches in the past year showed two men kissing, which upset many viewers. While standards used to be different, kissing now isn't considered sexually explicit by the FCC, no matter who is doing it.

  3. Religious parodies. No content is safe from "SNL's" satire, and religion is no different. That can upset some people, but the First Amendment doesn't just protect the right to choose your own religious beliefs. It also protects our right to say what we think, including insulting or poking fun at someone else's religion.

  4. Racism. Funnily enough, many complaints have accused "SNL" of being racist against almost everyone, including Hispanics, blacks, whites, and Asians. Putting aside the fact that the show is satire and not serious, talking about racist stereotypes is not illegal. While it may be offensive to hear someone make nasty comments about another race, or speak in a silly accent, in most cases freedom of speech allows it.

  5. It's just not funny. Ok, this isn't a legal complaint, but it came up often enough. For people who don't find the show amusing, the FCC really can't do anything about it -- your only recourse is to change the channel.

It doesn't appear that any of these FCC "Saturday Night Live" complaints led to any change in "SNL's" content. But as the show goes on (it's now in its 38th season), you can bet that the FCC will entertain even more complaints from those who don't find the show funny.

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