Supreme Court to Hear Challenge to FCC’s Right to Regulate “Indecency” on TV

Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Cher sets off Supreme Court case (photo: Joe Cavaretta, AP)
A conservative parents’ organization and the Obama administration find themselves on the same side in a court case brought by the major television networks.
Fox and other networks have sued the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to challenge its authority to regulate indecency on the airwaves. The networks contend it is unfair for the FCC to regulate them for nudity, violence and language, while cable channels are free to show content that would get the networks fined.
“Today, broadcasting is neither uniquely pervasive nor uniquely accessible to children, yet broadcasters are still denied the same basic First Amendment freedoms as other media,” attorney Carter Phillips, who represents Fox and other networks, told the court in a brief.
The Department of Justice is defending the FCC’s powers. It contends, as does the Parents Television Council, that it is important to keep federal oversight of the broadcast networks, which still command the largest viewing audiences, in order to provide family-friendly programming for parents and children.
The current law has its basis in a 1978 Supreme Court ruling, FCC v. Pacifica Foundation, in which the Court, in a 5-4 vote, ruled that the FCC does have the right to regulate TV and radio content between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. In 2009, in another 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court upheld the FCC’s right to change its policy and then fine Fox for allowing Cher to use the word “fuck” during a 2002 broadcast of the Billboard Awards. However, the Court did not rule about the constitutionality of the FCC’s action, which it will now do this summer.
-Noel Brinkerhoff, David Wallechinsky
Supreme Court To Consider FCC Indecency Case (by Nina Totenberg, NPR Morning Edition)
Appeals Court Rules against FCC in Janet Jackson Super Bowl Breast Flash (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)

Is the Word “Vagina” Now Acceptable on Network TV? (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov) 


Leave a comment