Thursday, October 25, 2007

FCC v Fox: Broadcast indecency case may go to Supreme Court

USA Today on Thursday Oct. 25, 2007 has a story by Joan Biskupic, “Fight over TV Indecency is on high court’s doorstep: Case to test FCC’s attempt to limit expletives,” on p A1. There is no online article on the site yet.

Last June, the 2nd Circuit had overrules the FCC’s rules (that date back to the ‘wardrobe manfuction” of Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson at a superbowl), the CBS fine for which is still before the Third Circuit, and to earlier incidents involving Fox, Cher, and Nicole Richie.

An earlier story is here.

"Broadcasters Win Appeal Of FCC's Profanity Ruling," Frank Ahrens, June 5, 2007, p A7.

A discussion of the FCC appeal is here:

"FCC to Challenge Profanity Decision in Supreme Court: Department of Justice Solicitor General Asks for Extension Until Nov. 1", By John Eggerton -- Broadcasting & Cable, 9/26/2007.

At a conceptual level, the use of expletives may be misleading. In the COPA trial, discussed on this blog, much attention was paid to what fits the three prongs of HTM material, and in the earlier CDA trial in 1997, there had been concern over just what “indecency” means, although George Carlin’s seven bad words came up as a benchmark. In today’s world, it is “implicit content” (the likely interpretation of visitors and what they may feel motivated to do, especially minors) that will become the controversial concept.

The Fox and CBS cases cover another problem: Cable television channels do not face the same restrictions as do major broadcast networks, and neither (now at least) do Internet bloggers and publishers.

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