U.S. Justices to Rule on FCC Indecency Policy

Jun 27, 2011 8:45 AM PST

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday decided to weigh in whether federal regulators are violating the U.S. Constitution by imposing fines for on-air profanities and nudity.

The justices today said they will review a lower court’s decision — Federal Communications Commission vs. FOX Television Stations, 10-1293 — that ruled the FCC's indecency policy is unconstitutionally vague.

U.S. Justices could overturn rulings that give the FCC more authority to regulate programming on broadcast stations than on cable or satellite. Oral arguments will be held later this year.

At issue is whether the FCC may constitutionally enforce its policies on "fleeting expletives" and scenes of nudity on TV programs, both live and scripted.

“The media landscape has changed so dramatically that the factual underpinnings of those decisions are no longer valid,” FOX argued in court papers.

The case stems from expletives uttered on two FOX award shows and from a scene with a nude woman on ABC’s “NYPD Blue.”

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