Fleeting Expletives Case Hits Appeals Court
January 14, 2010 at 4:45 AM (PT)
The FCC's "fleeting expletives" indecency ban took a battering from a three-judge panel of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in NEW YORK WEDNESDAY, as the panel heard the remanded case and grilled an FCC attorney about the rationale for the ban.
Judges ROSEMARY POOLER, PIERRE LEVAL and PETER HALL peppered FCC attorney JACOB LEWIS with questions about the regulation, with POOLER noting the law's chilling effect on speech and LEVAL responding to LEWIS' assertion that the rule protects children by asking, "What are you protecting children from?" The judges asked LEWIS to explain why an expletive on a newscast, which the Commission would exempt, would have a different effect on a child from one on another show, and indicated that the rule may be too vague to be constitutional. The questioning of lawyers for FOX, CBS, and NBC appeared to be less critical.
The case, based on FOX television's airing of the "BILLBOARD MUSIC AWARDS" telecasts that included live expletives from CHER and NICOLE RICHIE, was remanded from the SUPREME COURT in NOVEMBER. The remand allowed the Second Circuit to address constitutional issues that were not part of the SUPREME COURT opinion, which was based on procedural grounds.