The FCC yesterday (July 5) asked a U.S. appeals court for the chance to re-examine its own recent indecency decisions. The commission has also asked the court to suspend any judgments concerning sever
The FCC yesterday (July 5) asked a U.S. appeals court for the chance to re-examine its own recent indecency decisions. The commission has also asked the court to suspend any judgments concerning several television broadcasts that were deemed indecent in a series of orders handed down on March 15.
The FCC court filing was supported by affiliates of three major networks -- ABC, NBC and CBS. The motion was filed in the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit at the request of the broadcasters.
This latest move by the FCC also highlights the commission's lack of movement on a long-pending but still unissued set of indecency decisions concerning various radio broadcasts.
One crucial part of the broadcasters' case with the appeals court is their argument that they didn't have a chance to be heard in advance by the commission before it issued its decisions in March.
Another crucial part of this court case involves the FCC's 2004 decision on language used by U2 lead singer Bono during the 2003 broadcast of the Golden Globe Awards show.
The networks and stations have said to the appeals court that the FCC acted arbitrarily because it didn't give the networks a clear standard for what content is objectionable.
According to an FCC spokesman, the motion filed with the court yesterday would give the case back to the FCC and "allow the commission to hear all of the licensees' arguments, which is necessary for the broadcasters to make these same arguments before the court."
In the Golden Globe broadcast, Bono responded to winning the award for "Best Original Song" by saying "This is really, really fucking brilliant. Really, really great."
The FCC decided that the use of a single expletive, or any variation of the "F-Word," is both "indecent" and "profane" and could be grounds for a fine, even if the expletive was uttered accidentally or fleeting.
In its 2004 decision, the FCC also wrote that "depending on the context, [the FCC] will also consider under the definition of 'profanity' the 'F-Word' and those words (or variants thereof) that are as highly offensive as the 'F-Word’."
Under Federal court judgments and commission rules, material is indecent if it "in context, depicts or describes sexual or excretory activities or organs in a patently offensive manner as measured by contemporary community standards for the broadcast medium."
Indecent speech can be aired without the threat of FCC fines during the "safe harbor" between 10 p.m.-6 a.m.