FCC Loses Another Indecency Ruling In Court
Same Court Cites Precedence Of Earlier Decision To Snub FCC
January 4, 2011 at 2:32 PM (PT)
A federal appeals court has just tossed out the FCC's $1.2 million fine against ABC-TV and its affiliates for broadcasting a 2003 episode of the now-defunct "NYPD BLUE", in which an actress' derriere was briefly exposed, reports the NATIONAL JOURNAL. The SECOND CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS in NEW YORK cited the precedence of a ruling it made last year, when it struck down a different FCC fine -- regarding impromptu profanity on a live broadcast -- "because it is unconstitutionally vague."
If these Court rulings are eventually upheld in the SUPREME COURT, that would impact all of the COMMISSION's fines for profanity and other indecencies broadcast over the radio.
The court again reminded the FCC that it is the commission's own inconsistency in setting an indecency standard that is "unconstitutionally vague" and unenforceable. BUSINESSWEEK reports that "The appeals panel agreed with networks that the FCC failed to let them know which words are 'patently offensive' for purposes of its policy. The FCC policy was contradictory because some instances of profanity were fined while similar language was not."
The seconds-long exposure of bare buttocks in "NYPD BLUE", was protected speech under the precedent set by the JULY decision, the appeals court said.
Reaction to this ruling, like the previous one, has been predictable. "Today's decision by the court is further evidence that the highest authority on family television viewing is parents and not the government," TV WATCH Exec. Dir. JIM DYKE said in a news release. "Parents already have tools such as the V-Chip and content ratings to help them make decisions based on their own taste, values and style."
"This ruling is as devoid of common sense as it was predictable," PARENTS TELEVISION COUNCIL Pres. TIM WINTER said in a statement. The SECOND CIRCUIT's three-judge panel has stated that it doesn't like the concept of broadcast decency. The court is clearly on a quest to do everything in its power to impede the law -- even if the judges' rationale today conflicts with their prior reasoning for overturning FCC sanctions."