Jan 6 committee hearings draw FCC complaints for cursing, Fox coverage – USA TODAY

A few Americans upset with broadcast coverage of the House Jan. 6 committee hearings have acted formally on their distaste, filing official complaints with the federal agency that regulates communications by radio, television, wire, satellite and cable.
For some the findings of the panel investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol was too much, others too little; some said the proceedings were fake, others complained of coarse language, according to six June filings with the Federal Communications Commission newly released to USA TODAY.
The half-dozen complaints came from residents in California, Maryland, Ohio and Texas.
Viewers complained that Fox affiliates were not airing the committee’s hearings, which are set to resume this fall. Eight hearings were held over the summer and some were broadcast in prime time. A report of the committee’s findings is expected later this year.
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“No matter politics, clearly public education about what happened on Jan. 6, 2020 (sic) is in the public interest as (a) current lesson about American government and civics,” one viewer wrote, noting an FCC license is predicated on serving the public good. 
Unlike three other networks – ABC, CBS or NBC – Fox left it up to local broadcast affiliates to decide whether to carry the events live. Fox News ran a line-up of conservative hosts instead of the hearings in the prime time slots. It aired a majority of the daytime hearings live.
Viewers also took aim at broadcasts of the special report-style hearings, which they called “fake” – echoing language used by former President Donald Trump.
“We all should not have to be subjected to watching something that was made up, and something that was allowed to happen by the personnel who work at the capital building, including crooked people working for the government,” one viewer wrote.
Another accused broadcasters of misusing their emergency alert notifications to “spread propaganda” of the hearings that “should not be allowed to be televised under the guise of a trial.”
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Others had more routine complaints over language. A Des Moines, Iowa, resident complained about the inclusion and airing of former Attorney General Bill Barr saying “bull—-” in his interview with investigators. A parent from Ohio wrote that her child was “constantly hearing the f-word” as the hearings proceeded.
The handful of complaints pale in comparison to the uproar on social media and editorial pages about the hearings, as well as to FCC complaints about other high-profile broadcast incidents in recent history.
Will Smith’s Oscars slap of Chris Rock garnered more than five dozen complaints and the 2020 Super Bowl half-time show featuring scantily clad Jennifer Lopez and Shakira garnered more than 1,300. A record 540,000 complaints hit the FCC after Janet Jackson’s nipple was exposed during her 2004 Super Bowl performance.
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Nick Penzenstadler is a reporter on the USA TODAY investigations team. Contact him at [email protected] or @npenzenstadler, or on Signal at (720) 507-5273.

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