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  • Supreme Court Rules that FCC “Malfunctioned” in Indecency Cases

    In a victory for broadcasters and for those of us who value the protection afforded under the first amendment, the Supreme Court threw out cases and related sanctions brought by the Federal Communications Commission against networks that aired fleeting profanity and nudity.  Justice Anthony Kennedy, in an 18-page opinion, said the FCC “failed to give [the networks] fair notice prior to the broadcasts in question that fleeting expletives and momentary nudity could be found actionably indecent.”  The FCC’s crackdown began in 2004 after the “wardrobe malfunction” involving Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson during the Superbowl Halftime Show (an investigation in which DOAR was involved).

    While the opinion doesn’t provide much clarity to broadcasters regarding the boundaries of indecency, it will impact the FCC’s (and other government agencies’) enforcement efforts and limit the potential overreaching that is sometimes emblematic of new policy changes at government agencies.

    More information can be found here.

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