The FCC's Obscenity Malfunction
from the arbitrariness-is-no-way-to-govern dept
The FCC has a pretty spotty record when it comes to dealing with indecency charges. Basically, it seems to randomly fine stations if it receives enough complaints, even if most of those complaints come from auto-generated scripts from people who didn't actually see the content at all. Of course, perhaps the most highly publicized case where the FCC got involved over what it found to be indecent content was the infamous Janet Jackson Super Bowl wardrobe malfunction. However a court has now ruled that, rather than a wardrobe malfunction, the real malfunction was by the FCC, which had changed its obscenity standards arbitrarily and with no explanation whatsoever in doling out fines over the incident. The court points out that the FCC is allowed to change its standards, but with an explanation and not so arbitrarily. In this case, though, it seemed clear that the response was politically motivated -- and the court has tossed out the fines.