The title of the blog is more of an attention grabber than usual and it didn’t take creativity. Cursing and Nudity comes straight from a Supreme Court opinion that was published on Thursday.
In Federal Communications Commission v. Fox Television, (NY Times article) the Supreme Court excused two broadcasters from potential FCC fines relating to past broadcasting violations against cursing and nudity. It was an 8-0 vote. Justice Sonia Sotomayor recused herself from the case.
The Court set aside fines against Fox relating to “fleeting expletives” that were uttered by Cher and Nicole Ritchie during a 2002 Billboard Music Awards show.
ABC and it’s affiliates had also been fined for an episode of NYPD Blue. In a 2003 show, an actresses’ bare buttocks were displayed during a shower scene.
The Court never got to the question of First Amendment rights and the possible limitation of free speech, over the airwaves. In fact, the opinion did not provide any guidance relating to when the government has the authority to regulate anything on broadcast television.
The Court did an “end-around” on the real issue. Instead, it chose to base the opinion on notice. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote in the opinion that the FCC had changed the rules in the middle of the game. “The commission failed to give Fox or ABC fair notice, prior to the broadcasts in question that fleeting expletives and momentary nudity could be found actionable indecent”.
For those that believe that less government is better government, this opinion will be soup to the soul. However, there are some that don’t want government, unless they want something regulated; like what should be deemed immoral on television. That’s what makes law full of twists and turns.
I blog… you decide!
For a TV blog, here’s pic o’ day: