blind_html Fwd: U.S. top court upholds TV profanity crackdown

  • From: Nimer Jaber <nimerjaber1@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: blind_html@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 29 Apr 2009 21:50:38 -0600

-------- Original Message --------
Subject:        U.S. top court upholds TV profanity crackdown
Date:   Thu, 30 Apr 2009 00:19:59 -0000
From:   Ray T. Mahorney <coffee-craver@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Reply-To:       Blind-chit-chat@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
To:     <Undisclosed-Recipient:;> <>

* US top court upholds crackdown on TV profanity

* First broadcast indecency ruling in more than 30 years

* "F-word's" power to insult and offend (Adds details, byline)

By James Vicini

WASHINGTON, April 28 (Reuters) - The Supreme Court upheld on Tuesday a
U.S. government crackdown on profanity on television, a policy that
subjects broadcasters to fines for airing a single expletive blurted out
on a live show.

In its first ruling on broadcast indecency standards in more than 30
years, the high court handed a victory to the Federal Communications
Commission, which adopted the crackdown against the one-time use of
profanity on live television when children are likely to be watching.

The case stemmed from an FCC ruling in 2006 that found News Corp's
NWSa.N Fox television network violated decency rules when singer Cher
blurted out an expletive during the 2002 Billboard Music Awards
broadcast and actress Nicole Richie used two expletives during the 2003

No fines were imposed, but Fox challenged the decision and a U.S.
appeals court in New York struck down the new policy as as "arbitrary
and capricious" and sent the case back to the FCC for a more reasoned
explanation of its policy.

The FCC, under the administration of President George W. Bush, had
embarked on a crackdown of indecent content on broadcast TV and radio
after pop star Janet Jackson briefly exposed her bare breast during the
2004 broadcast of the Super Bowl halftime show.

Before 2004, the FCC did not ordinarily enforce prohibitions against
indecency unless there were repeated occurrences.

By a 5-4 vote and splitting along conservative-liberal lines, the
justices overturned the ruling by the appeals court and said the FCC's
new policy and its findings in the two cases were neither arbitrary nor

"The agency's reasons for expanding its enforcement activity, moreover,
were entirely rational," Justice Antonin Scalia said in summarizing the
court's majority ruling from the bench.

"Even when used as an expletive, the F-word's power to insult and offend
derives from its sexual meaning," he said.

Government lawyers in the case have said the policy covered so-called
"fleeting expletives," such as the "F-word" and the "S-word" that denote
"sexual or excretory activities," respectively. (Reporting by James
Vicini, Editing by Dave Zimmerman)

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