Commissioners weigh in on Supreme Court indecency ruling


FCC Commissioners / May 2012In general, the chairman and commissioners at the FCC see the SCOTUS decision as the signal that their agency has more work to do. For one, that work will include clearing out a backlog of indecency complaints.

Here is what the five FCC 8th Floor residents had to say on the matter:

* Chairman Julius Genachowski: “We are reviewing today’s decision, which appears to be narrowly limited to procedural issues related to actions taken a number of years ago. Consistent with vital First Amendment principles, the FCC will carry out Congress’s directive to protect young TV viewers.”

* Commissioner Robert McDowell: “Today, the Supreme Court held that the FCC failed to provide fair notice that Fox’s airing of fleeting expletives and ABC’s broadcast of brief nudity during an NYPD episode would trigger enforcement action and, therefore, the indecency standards as applied to these broadcasts were impermissibly vague. The FCC must expeditiously implement the Court’s decision to put an end to years of litigation and uncertainty regarding the Commission’s regulation of indecent content on America’s airwaves. As a matter of good governance, it is now time for the FCC to get back to work so that we can process the backlog of pending indecency complaints – which currently stands at just under 1.5 million involving about 9,700 TV broadcasts. Some of these complaints date back to 2003. We owe it to the American public and the broadcast licensees involved to carry out our statutory duties with all deliberate speed. I look forward to working with the Chairman, my Commission colleagues and FCC staff to reduce the backlog of indecency cases, along with more than 300 license renewal applications that have remained pending in light of this litigation, as soon as possible.”

* Commissioner Mignon Clyburn: “In reviewing the Supreme Court’s decision, which is narrowly focused on conduct from a decade ago, we will adhere to the principles set forth by the Court. Citizens depend on laws that protect their families, and look to both industry and government to ensure that no child is unduly influenced by harmful material before they reach the age of understanding. However, we must be mindful of the rights guaranteed under the First Amendment.”

* Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel: “I look forward to reviewing and assessing today’s decision from the Supreme Court. I will work with my colleagues to help ensure that parents can protect their children from harmful content and that the agency faithfully implements its authority under the law.”

* Commissioner Ajit Pai: “Today’s narrow decision by the U.S. Supreme Court does not call into question the Commission’s overall indecency enforcement authority or the constitutionality of the Commission’s current indecency policy. Rather, it highlights the need for the Commission to make its policy clear. I look forward to working with my colleagues to provide the clarity that both parents and broadcasters deserve. At this point, the best way for us to proceed is to get to work resolving the multitude of indecency complaints that have piled up during this litigation.”