WSJ: News Corp. Pres. Defends Challenge To FCC
October 22, 2008 at 5:39 AM (PT)
In two weeks, the SUPREME COURT will wade into the sensitive subject of broadcast indecency for the first time in 30 years, but NEWS CORP. President PETER CHERNIN made his case on why the court should rule against the government a little early, reports THE WALL STREET JOURNAL.
At a MEDIA INSTITUTE dinner TUESDAY night where he was given a First Amendment award, CHERNIN defended FOX TELEVISION's decision to challenge the FCC's no-tolerance policy on fleeting, or unscripted, expletives despite some personal misgivings about a few of FOX's programming choices.
If anyone had told me that my company would be before the U.S. Supreme Court defending inane comments by Cher and Nicole Ritchie, I would have said you're crazy.
"While a case with CHER and NICOLE RICHIE at its center is probably not one we would have chosen to argue before the SUPREME COURT, the truth is, we don't get to pick our cases," CHERNIN said, in prepared remarks released by the company. He added that "if anyone had told me that my company would be before the U.S. SUPREME COURT defending inane comments by CHER and NICOLE RITCHIE, I would have said you're crazy."
On Election Day, the justices will hear oral arguments involving a case involving a 2002 FOX broadcast of the BILLBOARD MUSIC AWARDS which included an appearance by CHER, who uttered an obscenity. A year later on the same awards show, NICOLE RICHIE uttered several profanities while handing out an award. The FCC has been far more aggressive in enforcing indecency laws in the past eight years or so, handing out more fines and tightening its standard for what's acceptable. FCC Chairman KEVIN MARTIN has argued that broadcasters shouldn't air shows with partial nudity or expletives when children might be watching.
The case is one of several indecency cases that have been challenged by broadcasters over the past few years. The most notable case involves a $550,000 fine levied on CBS for singer JANET JACKSON's breast-baring "wardrobe malfunction" during the 2004 SUPER BOWL. A federal appeals court rejected that fine.
"As a media company, we have not just a right but a responsibility to stand up to the government when it crosses that First Amendment line in the sand -- even if the content we are defending is in bad taste," CHERNIN said.