Black Entertainment : U.S. Appeals Court Strikes Down FCC Rule

Discussion in 'Black Entertainment' started by Kemetstry, Jul 14, 2010.

  1. Kemetstry

    Kemetstry going above and beyond PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Court strikes down FCC indecency rules on fleeting f-bombs


    photo credit: Getty Images

    A federal appeals court on Tuesday knocked down the Federal Communications Commission's indecency policy, saying that the agency's guidelines for fleeting expletives and other indecencies in broadcast were vague and violated the First Amendment.

    The opinion was a win for Fox Television, CBS Broadcasting and ABC, which had petitioned the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals, saying guidelines on "fleeting expletives," implemented by the FCC in 2004, were arbitrary and capricious.

    The three-judge panel of the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York said in its unanimous opinion that the FCC's policy was "unconstitutionally vague, creating a chilling effect that goes far beyond the fleeting expletives at issue here."

    The FCC declined to comment on whether it would appeal the decision. Chairman Julius Genachowski said in a statement: “We’re reviewing the court’s decision in light of our commitment to protect children, empower parents, and uphold the First Amendment.”

    The agency's approach to fleeting f-bombs and the like can be credited to U2 singer Bono, who at the Golden Globes Awards in 2003 said upon winning an award: "This is really, really [expletive] brilliant. Really, really, great."

    After complaints about Bono's comments, the FCC declared that a single, nonliteral use of an expletive, or a "fleeting expletive," could be "actionably indecent." At the time, indecency in broadcast was the hottest issue at the FCC, with television viewers steaming over Janet Jackson's nipple exposure in the 2004 Super Bowl. Congress at the same time raised the maximum penalties for broadcast indecencies from $32,500 to $325,000.

    The battle over indecency in broadcast began much earlier, however, when in 1972 comedian George Carlin began to broadcast his 7 Dirty Words stand-up routine. The FCC issued a complaint against a Pacifica radio station for airing the routine in 1973, an order the radio station fought all the way up to the Supreme Court. The court eventually ruled in favor of the FCC.

    Andrew Jay Schwartzman, policy director of the Media Access Project, said broadcasters will next take their case to the Supreme Court to finally overturn the FCC's policy.

    “The score for today’s game is First Amendment one, censorship zero," he said.




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  2. Kemetstry

    Kemetstry going above and beyond PREMIUM MEMBER

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