Thursday, April 21, 2011

Return of the FCC Indecency Policy?

As we have discussed in class, there are a variety of rules governing broadcast media. This article in the Huffington Post discusses the Obama administration's desire for the SCT to reinstate a policy allowing regulators to fine broadcasters for airing indecent material.

The administration is seeking the high court's review of appeals court rulings that threw out the Federal Communications Commission's rules against the isolated use of expletives as well as fines against broadcasters who showed a woman's nude buttocks on a 2003 episode of ABC's "NYPD Blue."

Last year, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York threw out the FCC policy, saying it was unconstitutionally vague and left broadcasters uncertain of what programming the agency will find offensive. The challenge to the FCC rules arose over celebrities' use of the F-word and S-word on live awards show programs.

...

For many years, the FCC did not take action against broadcasters for one-time uses of curse words. The policy flowed from a 1978 Supreme Court decision that upheld the FCC's reprimand of a New York radio station for airing a George Carlin monologue containing a 12-minute string of expletives in the middle of the afternoon.

But, following several awards shows with cursing celebrities in 2002 and 2003, the FCC toughened its long-standing policy after it concluded that a one-free-expletive rule did not make sense in the context of keeping the air waves free of indecency when children are likely to be watching television

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