Supreme Court Says FCC Can Impose ‘Fleeting Expletives’ Fines

Apr 28, 2009  •  Post A Comment

The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that the FCC could threaten to fine broadcasters for “fleeting expletives” on the airwaves, although it stopped short of deciding if the policy is unconstitutional, the Associated Press reports. The court’s ruling, a 5-4 decision, stems from a case involving obscenities uttered by Nicole Richie and Cher during Fox’s live broadcasts of the 2002 and ’03 Billboard Music Awards. While approving the threat of fines, the court did not rule on whether the Federal Communications Commission’s “fleeting expletives” policy is in line with First Amendment guarantees of free speech; instead, it said a federal appeals court should weigh the policy’s constitutionality, the AP said. The Supreme Court also threw out the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that found in favor of Fox Television’s challenge to the FCC policy, the AP said.
—Lisa D. Horowitz

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