TV Networks File Supreme Court Briefs On Indecency
August 1, 2008 at 4:00 PM (PT)
The FOX television network filed a brief with the SUPREME COURT FRIDAY that asserts that the FCC's indecency rules are unconstitutional because the "pervasiveness" rationale used by the court in the PACIFICA "seven words" case no longer applies in an era with cable and satellite channels not subject to the restrictions. BROADCASTING AND CABLE MAGAZINE reports that the filing noted that broadcast material is no longer uniquely accessible to children since they can get unregulated material through the Internet, and that the Commission "now willy-nilly punishes utterances that fall far short of the 'verbal shock treatment' that for decades described what was necessary to satisfy the requirement that language be 'patently offensive.'"
B&C also reports that the other Big 3 networks, NBC, CBS, and ABC, filed a brief in support of FOX calling the FCC's indecency regulation a case of "bait and switch" and indefensible, and echoed FOX' contention that broadcasting is no longer uniquely pervasive nor uniquely accessible to children. The networks also targeted the 1969 RED LION case upholding the Fairness Doctrine, saying that spectrum scarcity, which was the basis of the RED LION decision, "is totally, surely and finally defunct."
The briefs were filed in the FCC's appeal of the rejection of the indecency rules as applied to "fleeting expletives" in the BILLBOARD MUSIC AWARDS case.