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April 18, 2014

FCC Appeals Ruling That Threw Out Indecency Regulations

by Jean Bentley, posted Aug 27th 2010 2:30PM
GavelThe Federal Communications Commission is fighting back against a July court ruling that threw out the organization's regulations against indecency on broadcast television, the Los Angeles Times reports.

After celebrities like Nicole Richie, Cher and Bono swore during award shows in 2002 and 2003, the FCC ruled in 2004 that television networks can be fined for those instances when such off-the-cuff expletives are broadcast. Last month, a New York appeals court threw out the organization's rules, saying they were unenforceable because they were so "unconstitutionally vague and chilling."

But, as expected, the FCC has appealed the decision made by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Second Circuit court's 3-0 decision stated that, "Under the current policy, broadcasters must choose between not airing or censoring controversial programs and risking massive fines or possibly even loss of their licenses, and it is not surprising which option they choose. Indeed, there is ample evidence in the record that the FCC's indecency policy has chilled protected speech."

Despite the indecency rules, the FCC never actually fined Fox or NBC (which broadcast the aforementioned celebrity faux-pas) for their transgressions. In fact, the LA Times reports that enforcement of the FCC's indecency regulations, which are in effect from 6AM to 10PM, has been "erratic."

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