Fox Takes Tough Stance on Indecency B&C

Fox is taking a strong stand on the broadcast indecency issue, essentially pushing for the Federal Communications to stop enforcing indecency standards entirely, B&C reports.

“Fox has asked the FCC to dismiss all of its remaining indecency complaints -- several hundred thousand remained at last check -- and to get out of the business of regulating indecent content altogether,” the piece reports. “It is not a new position for the network, which has long argued the FCC's enforcement regime was chilling and unconstitutional, but it was put rather forcefully in its latest input to the commission.”

Fox made its comments Wednesday in response to an FCC proposal to pursue only "egregious" complaints, B&C reports.

“Fox said that is the least it could do,” the story reports. “And preferably, Fox said, the FCC should ‘conclude that it is legally required, and logically bound, to cease attempting to enforce broadcast indecency limits once and for all.’"

Describing Fox’s argument, B&C adds: “Given that the FCC's indecency enforcement power was rooted in the medium's unique access to children, and given that the FCC is now ‘just a small sliver of the panoply of video content available to an average consumer today,’ and thus less uniquely and pervasively available to children, the FCC should decide that it ‘no longer has any lawful grounds to “police” broadcast speech on the basis that it is indecent’ and admit that broadcasters should have the same First Amendment protections as any other medium.”

Fox argued that the panel, even if it does not completely abandon enforcement, "should confine its interest, at most, to content that indisputably includes an explicit portrayal of sexual or excretory organs or activities. The Commission has no business attempting to regulate isolated or fleeting words or images, nor should the FCC concern itself with innuendo or entendre. And in no event should the Commission ever attempt to sanction content during live programming or during news or public affairs programming."

Addressing the indecency complaints that remain in the works, the piece reports: “The Supreme Court did not throw out the FCC's indecency enforcement policy, but ... said that the FCC had not given sufficient notice of just how that policy would be applied. Given that, said Fox, ‘regardless of the path it chooses to pursue going forward, the Commission owes it to broadcasters and the Supreme Court to dismiss whatever remains of the backlog of pending indecency cases.’"