Both the New York Times and the Washington Post yesterday asked the Supreme Court to uphold the First Amendment and prevent the FCC from overreaching in its zeal to prevent the utterance of a single vulgarity over the air. The Post says the FCC failed to justify abandoning precedent in this matter. A lower court agreed, and so should the Supreme Court.
The Times said the FCC is turning itself into a “censorship board,” that punishes certain language in one instance and allows it in another, creating uncertainty that exerts a “chilling effect on important speech.”
The Post noted that broadcasters have an obligation to keep the airwaves clean, and for the most part do so, even when not required. WaPo cited CBS star David Letterman, who operates during safe harbor but nonetheless controls his own speech without being compelled by the government.
WaPo further notes that the briefs attacking broadcasters have had to forage so hard for actual examples of indecency that there is more off-color material in the briefs they have prevented than has actually gone out over the air over the past several years.
RBR/TVBR observation: As we noted earlier, there are many possible outcomes possible. We hope that the Supreme Court simply upholds the Second Circuit ruling and brings this matter to an end.