In an effort to reduce the risk of reversal by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, the FCC successfully persuaded the Court to allow it to pull back and review four indecency decisions. Earlier this week, the FCC announced the outcome of that review. The “F-word” is still very problematic. A five-second delay mechanism may not be enough to establish a legal defense. There is a tip-of-the-hat toward the First Amendment in the context of news programs but only that. And the procedural hurdle that the FCC has thrown up against blanket indecency complaints is probably only a temporary setback for national organizations intent upon “cleaning up the airwaves.”
A PDF version of this entire article can be found at Reaffirmed Principles and New “Clarifications” of the FCC’s Obscenity, Indecency and Profanity Regulations and Policies.