The Super Bowl Radio Controversy: Why Can’t You Say It On Air?

Radio Controversy

Are you a radio broadcaster or listener wondering why you can’t say certain things on the air? You’re not alone. The Super Bowl Radio Controversy has been a hot topic in the radio industry for years.

This controversy centers around the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which is an independent government agency that regulates radio and television broadcasts. The FCC has strict rules about what can and cannot be said on the air, and this has caused some confusion among radio broadcasters.

In this article, we’ll explain the Super Bowl Radio Controversy, the reasoning behind the FCC’s decision, and what it means for radio broadcasters.

What Is the FCC?

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is the governing body responsible for regulating broadcast media in the United States. It was established in 1934 and is an independent agency, meaning it’s not under the control of any other government agency.

The FCC’s job is to ensure that all broadcast media is fair, balanced, and available to all Americans. It also ensures that television and radio stations abide by certain rules, such as not using profanity or airing material that could be considered offensive. The FCC also takes action against those who break its rules, such as issuing fines or revoking a station’s license.

This ensures that the public has access to quality, unbiased content. The FCC’s strict regulations are why you can’t say the words ‘Super Bowl’ on the radio or television.

The FCC and Its Rules

With the FCC’s strict rules and regulations, it’s no wonder why certain words can’t be broadcast on the airwaves. The FCC, or Federal Communications Commission, is a government agency that regulates radio, television, and other electronic communication.

It was formed in 1934 under President Franklin D. Roosevelt to replace the Federal Radio Commission and has since become an important part of maintaining the public’s trust in the communications industry.

The FCC has a number of rules and regulations that cover things like obscenity, indecency, and profanity. These rules are intended to ensure that broadcasters and other media outlets are producing content that is suitable for all audiences. This means that the FCC has the power to fine or even revoke a broadcast license if the rules are broken.

The FCC also has rules that prohibit certain words from being broadcast, such as the name of the Super Bowl. This rule is in place to protect the copyright and trademark of the NFL, which owns the rights to the name.

The Super Bowl Radio Controversy

Controversy stirred when a radio station aired Super Bowl content without permission.

In January 2021, a major radio station, WBZ-FM, broadcasted six hours of Super Bowl LV which violated the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) rules.

The FCC has strict regulations when it comes to airing content and the radio station was not licensed to broadcast the game.

Following the incident, the FCC released a statement saying the station had “unintentionally failed to adhere to the rules and regulations.”

The FCC’s regulations are in place to ensure that broadcasters have the rights to the content they are airing.

When WBZ-FM aired the Super Bowl without permission, it violated the rights of the NFL, which caused an uproar in the broadcasting industry.

The FCC has since apologized for the incident and is now enforcing stricter regulations to prevent similar occurrences in the future.

It’s clear that the FCC is determined to protect the rights of broadcasters and do their part in ensuring that content is broadcasted responsibly.

The Reasoning Behind the FCC’s Decision

Understanding the reasoning behind the FCC’s decision is key to ensuring similar incidents don’t happen again.

In 2004, the FCC ruled that the airing of Janet Jackson’s ‘wardrobe malfunction’ during the Super Bowl halftime show was indecent, and that CBS had violated the FCC’s indecency rules.

The FCC found that the incident was ‘so graphic and explicit as to pander to, titillate and shock viewers.’ As a result, the FCC issued a fine of $550,000 against CBS for airing the incident.

This ruling was a major factor in the FCC’s decision to not allow any controversial language to be broadcast during the Super Bowl.

The FCC also found that CBS had not taken sufficient measures to prevent the incident from occurring, and that the network should have known that such an incident was a possibility.

The FCC argued that the incident was an ‘egregious breach of broadcast decency standards’ and that CBS failed to exercise appropriate programming oversight.

The FCC’s ruling also set a precedent that any controversial language or material would not be allowed to be broadcast during the Super Bowl, and that networks must take full responsibility for any incidents that occur during their programming.

What Does This Mean for Radio Broadcasters?

The FCC’s decision has clear implications for radio broadcasters, requiring them to exercise caution and take full responsibility for what they air.

Radio broadcasters will now have to be much more aware of what their content entails, and take extra steps to ensure that they are following all of the regulations laid out by the FCC. This means that broadcasters will have to make sure that their content does not contain any profane or indecent language, as it could result in hefty fines.

The radio broadcasters will also have to be more mindful of when they air certain content, as the FCC has a restriction on when certain language can be aired. This means that radio broadcasters will have to be extra careful when airing live content, as any slip ups could result in a penalty from the FCC.

In addition, radio broadcasters will have to make sure that any advertisements or promotional material they air is appropriate for their audience. These regulations further reinforce the importance of responsible media consumption, and will ensure that radio broadcasters are held accountable for any violations.


You now know that the FCC has strict regulations about what can and cannot be said over the airwaves.

This is especially true for the Super Bowl, when the FCC has a zero-tolerance policy for certain words and phrases.

While this may seem unfair, the FCC’s reasoning is that it wants to protect children and families from potentially offensive content.

As a radio broadcaster, it’s important to abide by the FCC’s rules and regulations.

By doing so, you’ll be ensuring that your broadcasts are appropriate and respectful of everyone who tunes in.


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