Court Strikes Down FCC Policy on Offensive Content

Broadband's Impact, FCC, Media July 13th, 2010


WASHINGTON, July 13, 2010 – A federal appeals court on Tuesday said the Federal Communications Commission cannot continue with its policy that prohibits all “patently offensive” references to sex, sexual organs and excretion because the policy is too vague and chills speech.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan struck down the 2004 Federal Communications Commission policy in the case Fox Television Stations, Inc. v. FCC.

“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.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said, “We’re reviewing the court’s decision in light of our commitment to protect children, empower parents, and uphold the First Amendment.”

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