Commenting class chimes in on Second Circuit indecency ruling


The decision of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals striking down the FCC’s regime of indecency enforcement was a major victory or a bitter defeat, depending on which side of issue one stands. Here is a compendium of commentary from various observers.

* Andrew Jay Schwartzman, Media Access Project: The score for today’s game is First Amendment one, censorship zero. Media Access Project entered this case on behalf of writers, producers, directors and musicians because the FCC’s indecency rules are irredeemably vague and interfere with the creative process. Today’s decision vindicates that argument. The next stop is the Supreme Court, and we’re confident that the
Justices will affirm this decision.

* Tim Winter, Parents Television Council: Let’s be clear about what has happened here today: A three-judge panel in New York once again has authorized the broadcast networks unbridled use of the ‘f-word’ at any time of the day, even in front of children.  The Court substituted its own opinion for that of the Supreme Court, the Congress of the United States, and the overwhelming majority of the American people.  For parents and families around the country, this ruling is nothing less than a slap in their face. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski and the Obama administration must immediately appeal.

* Robert Peters, Morality in Media: Part of me sympathizes with the broadcast TV networks. The FCC’s broadcast indecency enforcement “policy” is a mess because of federal court decisions, because enforcement policies change with changes in presidential administrations, and because the FCC Commissioners and FCC Enforcement Bureau don’t always see eye-to-eye when it comes to broadcast indecency. I also think that both the public and broadcasters would benefit if the FCC did its homework (with input from the public and industry) and crafted a more coherent policy. The truth of the matter is, of course, that a “more coherent policy” shouldn’t be needed. In particular, when it comes to the well-being of children, broadcasters should know what is and isn’t appropriate and act accordingly. If they don’t know, they shouldn’t be broadcasters.

* Mancow Muller, as quoted by Robert Fuller, on the fact that the ruling is too late in his case: It cost me millions upon millions of dollars. It gave power to lone kooks. I had one guy who worked for a Democratic politician’s office who decided he didn’t like what I had to say. If it were some mother who heard my show and was offended, that would have been different. It wasn’t. It was a politician that didn’t like what I had to say. I’m sitting here doing radio in Chicago, and they’re going to talk to me about community standards? And I have to talk like I’m talking to a 2-year-old child — because one guy didn’t like the show? Listen to your radio. Listen to how boring and ‘safe’ it is. They have destroyed open debate.

* Center for Creative Voices in Media: CV applauds the ruling of the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in Fox v FCC that the FCC policy on broadcast indecency is unconstitutional and harms not only creative media artists, but the American public. In its well-reasoned decision, the Court cited several examples found in CV’s Big Chill white paper of the “chilling effect” of the FCC’s actions. We fully expect the Supreme Court to uphold this decision should the FCC choose to appeal it.

* Patrick A. Trueman for Family Research Council and Focus on the Family: A ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for 2nd Circuit today declaring unconstitutional the Federal Communications Commission’s indecency policy seems foolish on it face. How is the American public to understand that federal judges don’t know that use of the “F-word” is indecent during prime-time television? This ruling only increases the public’s belief that government is out of touch with the public and out of step with the U.S. Constitution.