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Networks Seek Court Action in FCC Indecency Case

Jul 10, 2006  •  Post A Comment

Fox, CBS and NBC have gone to federal court to prevent the Federal Communications Commission from reclaiming a pivotal TV indecency case to allow arguments by local TV stations and further consideration by the FCC.

The motions filed Friday in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York charge that the FCC is trying to avoid judicial review of its indecency procedures, and say that if the FCC gets the case back, it should have to suspend enforcement of fines ordered under the FCC’s stronger indecency rules.

A joint petition for a stay also argued that the FCC’s opinion that any utterance of the F-word and S-word on broadcast TV is likely to be indecent “misconstrues the relevant statute, is arbitrary and capricious, and violates the First and Fifth Amendments.”

The FCC asked the same court last Wednesday to give it more time to allow local stations to contest the FCC indecency decisions and fines involved in cases since its April 2004 decision to reverse itself and declare indecent performer Bono’s use of the F-word on a live broadcast of the “Golden Globe Awards.”

That reversal led to proposed fines involving language on Fox’s broadcast of the 2002 “Billboard Music Awards,” “The Early Show” on CBS and ABC’s “NYPD Blue.”

The court has scheduled a “pre-argument conference” for Wednesday morning.