News Segment


May 25, 2005

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Motley Crue has sued NBC in Los Angeles federal court, accusing the network of banning the heavy metal band from its television programs to curry favor with federal regulators cracking down on indecency.

Motley Crue, best known for 1980s hits like “Girls, Girls, Girls,” was banned from appearing on NBC after its lead singer, Vince Neil, used a profanity during a New Year’s Eve 2004 broadcast of “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” according to court papers.

The suit, which was filed on Tuesday, seeks a court-ordered lifting of the NBC ban, a declaration that the ban was illegal, as well as unspecified damages the band suffered due to its loss of media exposure on both NBC and in other media outlets.

In a statement, NBC said Neil had “violated NBC’s standards” and added that the network “has the right to decide not to invite back guests who violate those standards and use an expletive during a live entertainment program.” The network called the lawsuit “meritless.”

At the crux of the suit is Motley Crue’s accusation that NBC banned the hard rockers to ingratiate itself with the Federal Communications Commission, which has been cracking down on broadcasters that push the envelope on indecency standards.

Television networks are barred from airing indecent content, which often includes profanity and sexually explicit material, except between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., when children are less likely to be watching.

According to the lawsuit, Neil wished bandmate Tommy Lee a “happy fucking New Year” during the broadcast of “The Tonight Show,” the most popular late night program in America.

In court papers, Motley Crue said it had been “singled out” by NBC, saying similar action was not taken against U2 lead singer Bono after he used the same expletive during the 2003 broadcast of the Golden Globe Awards, which was also carried live on NBC.

“The conclusion is inescapable that NBC is scapegoating Motley Crue to protect itself and head off punitive action from the FCC,” the lawsuit said. “Censorship … is an evil outlawed by the United States Constitution for over 200 years. It is an affront to our society.”

In the Bono case, the FCC ruled that NBC television stations violated federal standards when they showed the U2 frontman praising an award as “fucking brilliant” during the 2003 Golden Globe Awards telecast.

NBC challenged that ruling, saying it created a “sweeping new definition” of profanity never previously cited by regulators.

NBC is a unit of General Electric Co.

Courtesy of