The court battle between Fox Television and the FCC over fleeting expletive enforcement went decidedly in Fox’s, and broadcasters’ favor this summer, with FCC policy undone by the Second Circuit Court in New York on grounds of being “unconstitutionally vague and chilling.” The FCC is asking the Second Circuit for a redo, rather than going back upstairs to appeal to the Supreme Court.
FCC attorney Austin Schlick stated, “The court’s decision raised serious concerns about the commission’s ability to protect children and families from indecent broadcast programming. The commission remains committed to empowering parents and protecting children, and looks forward to the court of appeals’ further consideration of our arguments.”
The FCC believes it has gotten mixed messages from the Second Circuit and from Supreme Court rulings.
The Supreme Court remains an option if the Second Circuit declines the opportunity to rehear the case.
RBR-TVBR observation: The court wars over indecency have been brewing for a long time, and came to a head after the Janet Jackson Super Bowl incident, when the FCC out of the blue instituted its new fleeting expletive rule.
It was a classic overreach, and the Commission has been hard pressed to engage in any indecency enforcement since – but there hasn’t been much need, since huge fines have kept most broadcasters keeping clear distance from the ample indecency gray areas.
But the truth of the matter is that broadcasters did not go over the line with any regularity before the Janet Jackson incident. Complaints about the broadcast of inappropriate content have always been grotesquely overblown.