US Supreme Court Throws Out FCC Case on Swear Words, Nudity
Supreme Court: FCC Curse-Word, Nudity Policy Too Vague
Fucking 'ell. In an 8-0 decision, the US Supreme Court opined that the FCC's current rules on swearing and nudity are too vague, thus threatening broadcasters' First Amendment rights. However, the semi-ruling did not actually address the First Amendment issues brought by US broadcasters in the case itself.
Note that the Supreme Court maintained that the FCC maintains censorship rights over US airwaves (and cable broadcasts), but that fines against those who broadcast live events are unwarranted. In other words, Janet Jackson's nipple slip isn't the NFL's fault.
We should call this a nearly-unanimous indecision: eight out of nine Supreme Court justices (Sonia Sotomayor abstained) voted to vacate and remand a decision by the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, based on the FCC's moves against Fox and ABC.
Funnily enough, Family Guy isn't involved. The issue with Fox had to do with Cher and Nicole Ritchie swearing on awards show, and ABC showing Dennis Franz' ass on NYPD Blue.
All the Supreme Court really did was kick the ball back to the FCC, saying that the agency was free to revise its policies. This does not mean that HBO language is suddenly safe for network TV.
As you can see, FCC standards are vague to the point of being meaningless, and this move by the highest court in the land does nothing to rectify that, nor does it even say what, precisely, the FCC should even be doing in the age of YouTube. Should the FCC even exist? It's a fair question.
Below please find that George Carlin classic, the Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television.