/// High Court Hears Broadcast Indecency Cases

January 10, 2012  |  Media Week

There were no fleeting expletives uttered by the litigators or the Supreme Court justices during Tuesday's oral arguments over whether the Federal Communications Commission's indecency policy violates the First Amendment. But there were plenty of wry comments. Associate Justice Elena Kagan, in noting the inconsistencies in some of the FCC's indecency rulings (the F-word in Saving Private Ryan is OK, but not in a blues documentary), quipped: “The FCC has complete discretion. Nobody can use dirty words or nudity except for Steven Spielberg.” “Broadcasters better not interview those celebrities,” Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Antonin Scalia, in nearly identical comments during oral arguments, said of Nicole Richie, Cher and Bono, the celebrities that let loose F-bombs on award shows broadcast by Fox. Broadcasters seemed to make a lot of headway with the justices over the FCC's inconsistent enforcement of what constitutes indecent content, whether it's a fleeting expletive made by a celebrity during a live, unscripted show (FCC v. Fox) or the exposed bare butt in an episode of ABC's NYPD Blue (FCC v. ABC). But the court is probably unlikely to throw out the FCC's indecency rules altogether.

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High Court Hears Broadcast Indecency Cases


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