Jul 13, 2010 1:32 PM by Melissa Canone
NEW YORK (AP) - A federal appeals court on Tuesday found that a
government policy that can lead to broadcasters being fined for
allowing even a single curse word on live television is
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan tossed out
the Federal Communications Commission's policy after finding that
it violates the First Amendment.
In 2004, the FCC adopted a policy that profanity referring to
sex or excrement is always indecent.
"By prohibiting all `patently offensive' references to sex,
sexual organs and excretion without giving adequate guidance as to
what `patently offensive' means, the FCC effectively chills speech,
because broadcasters have no way of knowing what the FCC will find
offensive," the appeals court wrote.
"To place any discussion of these vast topics at the
broadcaster's peril has the effect of promoting wide
self-censorship of valuable material which should be completely
protected under the First Amendment," it added.
The FCC policy was put in place after a January 2003 NBC
broadcast of the Golden Globes awards show, in which U2 lead singer
Bono uttered the phrase "f------ brilliant." The FCC said the
F-word in any context "inherently has a sexual connotation" and
can lead to enforcement.
Fox Television Stations, owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.,
and other networks challenged the policy in 2006 after the FCC
cited the use of profanity during awards programs that were aired
in 2002 and 2003.