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FCC Axes Obscenity Rules

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FCC Axes Obscenity Rules

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Source: DailyTech - America, F**k Yeah! Supreme Court Axes FCC's TV Obscenity Rules

TV broadcasters are now free to curse and include nudity

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission and its enforcement of anti-obscenity laws have long been a thorny irritation to colorful media figures like Detroit rapper Eminem who famously sang, "So the F-C-C won't let me be. Or let me be me so let me see. They tried to shut me down on M-T-V. But it feels so empty without me."

Today the U.S. Supreme Court released a ruling that significantly scales back the FCC's censorship authority. In the case Federal Communications Commission, et al. v. Fox Television Stations, Inc., et al. the highest court in the land refused to assess the constitutionality of U.S. federal law that prohibits broadcasted obscenities. However, it did deal FCC efforts a blow by finding it illegal for the FCC to fine TV broadcaster who air obscenity or nudity during daytime hours.

Extra Notes:
A couple of points of clarification. The ruling does not scrap wholesale the obscenity laws, merely state that they need to be clearly defined in non-arbitrary language by the FCC. Thus, it does effectively scrap the laws for now, but may not long term. That said, it does leave the door open to future review.

The court did not overturn the Appeals court's ruling that the law was unconstitutional, hence for now the law can indeed be considered unconstitutional and uneforceable from a second front -- the Appeals decision, until the Supreme Court agrees to rule on Constitutionality.

Lastly, the ruling applies equally to all television broadcasters, and several other broadcasters like ABC had joined Fox in the lawsuit defense. In other words, Fox did not get "preferential treatment".


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Last Updated on June 24, 2012

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