The Walking Dead Season 7 started out with some of the most gruesome content on television, but it has yet to really fall under FCC scrutiny. But fans of the show knew all too well that it would eventually land on the desk of the Federal Communications Commission following complaints from viewers or family advocate groups.
The FCC is the television and radio watchdog that regulates the airwaves and declares governmental authority over indecency broadcasts, which includes obscene language and content. In terms of content, it has been classically understood that patently offensive nudity or graphically sexual scenes would be a finable offense.
Throwback to this picture of Glenn Rhee from The Walking Dead season 6. pic.twitter.com/iG31cNiwwo
— Steven Yeun Daily (@YeunDaily) December 21, 2016
But there is a gray area that the FCC treads lightly in, most notably within the cable spectrum. Since The Walking Dead airs on cable network AMC, then that means it does not utilize public airwaves to disseminate the show to its viewers. Since the public airwaves are classified as a public spectrum, that gives the FCC the authority to regulate and fine commercial channels that utilize them.
So even though the FCC has received numerous complaints about the first episode of Season 7 of The Walking Dead, according to Refinery 29, the next question is whether or not they have the ability to punish, or fine, AMC for the episode. There is also the question as to whether or not the material was deemed patently offensive to viewers, even though AMC clearly lists the TV rating for the show and indicates to its viewers that it is only intended for a mature audience.
To put it simply, if the FCC were to declare the right to fine AMC for the first episode of Season 7 of The Walking Dead, then that would open the door to fine many other cable networks, which includes FX, HBO, Showtime, Cinemax, Starz, TBS, and Comedy Central, just to name a few.
Even though The Walking Dead pushes the envelope in terms of content, it has yet to air an episode that has featured nudity or graphic sexuality. The Walking Dead is a horror TV show, as evidenced in the name, and it features strong depictions of horror violence. That includes zombies (walkers) that bite and tear apart human victims, people that kill other people in violent ways as well as other horrible situations that take place in a post-apocalyptic world.
Some of the complaints that the FCC has received about Season 7 of The Walking Dead include viewers that have expressed their dismay with the opening episode that featured a villain, Negan, who beat the heads in of two beloved characters on the show, Abraham, and Glenn.
— The Walking Dead AMC (@WalkingDead_AMC) December 17, 2016
But that must leave officials within the FCC to wonder that if these complaints about bloody violence, specifically the violence of beating a person’s skull in, was offensive to the audience, then why hasn’t these complaints come before? It certainly was not the first time that The Walking Dead featured a character beating the head in of a walking person. Although, in those situations, it had been a living person beating the head of a zombie in, but doesn’t that qualify as one in the same if the content itself features the same actions that the reports complain of? More to the point, that happens in nearly every episode of The Walking Dead.
In the unlikely scenario the FCC does take action on this matter with The Walking Dead, then that would set a dangerous precedent for the cable television industry. Shows like Game of Thrones, Westworld, Homeland, American Horror Story, and Outlander would all be in much more danger than they previously thought, potentially being fined by the FCC for numerous occasions of bloody violence and sexually explicit programming.
— The Walking Dead AMC (@WalkingDead_AMC) December 20, 2016
The Walking Dead recently aired its mid-season finale and will return to AMC on February 12 for the last eight episodes of Season 7.
[Featured Image by AMC]