In a case rooted in a 2004 decision by the Federal Communications Commission to step up its enforcement of indecency on the airwaves, the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals today ruled against the indecency policy, calling it a violation of the First Amendment. In unequivocal language the Court says that the FCC’s indecency standards were “unconstitutionally vague, creating a chilling effect that goes far beyond the fleeting expletives at issue here.” The biggest issue the Court had with the FCC was the changing definitions of indecency, saying that broadcasters were forced to effectively guess what the FCC will find offensive. The case, brought primarily by Fox Broadcasting but supported by other networks and advocacy groups, is just the first test in what is sure to be an ongoing fight over what is determined to be indecent content. Did the FCC go to far in its quest protect against offensive materials?
Andrew Schwartzman, Senior Vice President and Policy Director of the Media Access Project. He is counsel for the Center for Creative Voices in Media and the Future of Music Coalition in this proceeding.
Dan Isett, Director of Public Policy for the Parents Television Council