Court Tosses FCC Expletives Policy

A federal appeals court July 13 rejected a Federal Communications Commission policy that will get a broadcaster fined if it allows just one curse word on live television.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan tossed out the 2004 fleeting expletives policy that says any expletive referring to sex or excrement is always considered obscene.

“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 said in its ruling.

“To place the discussion of these vast topics at the broadcaster’s peril has the effect of promoting wide self-censorship of valuable material which should be completely protected under the First Amendment.”

The court determined the FCC could still come up with a policy as long as it doesn’t violate the First Amendment.

An FCC spokeswoman reportedly had no comment.