Jul 13, 2010

Court calls bulls#*t on FCC expletive rule

A federal appeals court has thrown out a Federal Communications Commission rule that allowed the government to levy huge fines on broadcasters when even a single expletive was uttered on a live show. The court said the 2004 policy was unconstitutionally vague.

 From the AP:
"By prohibiting all 'patently offensive' references to sex, sexual organs and excretion without giving adequate guidance as to what 'patently offensive' means, the FCC effectively chills speech, because broadcasters have no way of knowing what the FCC will find offensive," the appeals court wrote.
"To place any discussion of these vast topics at the broadcaster's peril has the effect of promoting wide self-censorship of valuable material which should be completely protected under the First Amendment," it added.

The FCC policy was put in place after a January 2003 NBC broadcast of the Golden Globes awards show, in which U2 lead singer Bono uttered the phrase "f------ brilliant." The FCC said the F-word in any context "inherently has a sexual connotation" and can lead to enforcement.

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