Circuit Court Delivers Blow To FCC's Push To Clamp Down On TV Cursing

from the new-legal-strategy-time dept

Over the past few years, the FCC's been increasing its efforts to regulate "indecent" programming -- both in terms of what it wants to regulate on broadcast television, but also by expanding the scope of its regulation to include cable. The FCC's indecency push (which it tries to justify with complaint stats inflated by form letters from activist groups) has been met with a lot of resistance from broadcasters, but also by courts who aren't happy with the Commission's vague guidelines and inconsistent policies. Yesterday, the FCC got a pretty significant smackdown from the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, which upheld the broadcasters' argument that its policy on "fleeting expletives" was invalid because it was "arbitrary and capricious". Essentially, the court said that the FCC can't simply change its stance without offering valid justification, and reversing 30 years of precedent requires a "reasoned basis" -- apparently "because we can, and 'cause we feel like it" isn't sufficient. While the court limited its ruling to the question of fleeting expletives, it added that it was skeptical the FCC could craft an argument that could pass constitutional muster, while also noting, like previous courts, that plenty of tools exist for parents to protect their children from objectionable programming. It seems likely that the FCC will appeal the case to the Supreme Court, but given the depth of the Circuit Court's opinion, a favorable outcome doesn't seem likely. As Adam Theirer notes, should the the wider constitutional issues come up in the appeal, the FCC could lose all of its powers to regulate indecent programming on public airwaves.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    TheDock22, Jun 5th, 2007 @ 1:33pm

    And to think...

    There's a bill floating around congress to allow the FCC to censor the Internet.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Chris, Jun 5th, 2007 @ 1:49pm

    Re: And to think...

    um, how could they censor the internet? even if the entire internet was subject to US law, there's no way they could actually censor the entire net. the gov't can't even stop kiddy porn and p2p, you think they could stop swearing online?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    GoblinJuice, Jun 5th, 2007 @ 1:57pm

    Fuck the FCC.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 5th, 2007 @ 2:31pm

    Re: And to think...

    I think there is always a bill floating around Congress and/or state legislatures trying to regulate the Internet, prohibit flag burning, requiring schools to post the 10 commandments, and every other half-witted idea someone thinks will get them brownie points with some special interest group.

    Fortunately most die quiet deaths. Unfortunately most of them get resurrected in a slightly modified form the next legislative session.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Charles Griswold, Jun 5th, 2007 @ 2:46pm

    Re: Re: And to think...

    um, how could they censor the internet? even if the entire internet was subject to US law, there's no way they could actually censor the entire net. the gov't can't even stop kiddy porn and p2p, you think they could stop swearing online?
    They'll implant us all with V-chips.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    joe, Jun 5th, 2007 @ 3:03pm

    Re: Fuck the FCC.

    Yes, Fuck the FCC

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Casper, Jun 5th, 2007 @ 3:26pm

    Re: Re: Fuck the FCC.

    I don't think you would enjoy that much...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Immovable Object Guy, Jun 5th, 2007 @ 4:11pm

    I know of the best parental control device - the off button.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Mike, Jun 5th, 2007 @ 4:50pm

    Re: Fuck the FCC.

    Yes, fuck them. Fuck them in their stupid ears. The FCC is a mostly worthless entity. IMO they should regulate the allocation of radio wave frequencies *ONLY*. As far as I'm concerned they have far overstepped their boundaries.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Myself, Jun 6th, 2007 @ 12:55am

    As it should be.

    "...should the the wider constitutional issues come up in the appeal, the FCC could lose all of its powers to regulate indecent programming on public airwaves."

    Which would be the most overwhelmingly positive thing to happen in a long time, both to the airwaves and to the FCC.

    Consumers and the market would be free to decide what belongs on the air, and the Commission would be free to focus on technical matters and spectrum ransom.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    mc, Jun 6th, 2007 @ 1:06am

    I'm tired of all editing and bleeping on tv stop treating us like bunch of babies.. and paranoid parents your kid eventually we learn how to use popular words like fuck,bitch,motherfucker, list goes on.. in school or friend house etc..

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
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    FCC isn't Fed Censorship Comission, Jun 6th, 2007 @ 7:01am

    Re: Re: Fuck the FCC.

    the FCC may be overstepping it's bounds with cable regulation.

    however the FCC isn't worthless. they do provide a standardization for communication technology. and that's great. although you could argue that IEEE does a standup job with communication standards as well.

    and while i feel that some things on TV (cable) aren't "right" i feel that as a subscripiton service, i can't force them to produce content i want to see.

    many cable compines are offering "al a carte and 'like' programming" packages. you can get all your bible thumping w/o any of the "gore n' porn" channels, or get your sports w/o all the shopping stuff.

    now, people who say the FCC should have control over cable, i ask this. should there be a governmental agency that regulates what condiments go on hamburgers? if i go to my burger joint, should i have to buy a burger with condiments i don't like? coz now i can say yes mor emustard, no onions/pickles please. if the burger isn't made, i won't buy it again.

    just like cable...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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