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Court Rules the FCC’s Indecency Policy Is Itself Indecent

Today an appeals court ruled (not for the first time) that the FCC's indecency policy is a violation of the first amendment right to free speech. Back in 2004, the FCC amped up its enforcement of indecency violations, and, with powers granted by Congress, began fining broadcasters up to $325,000 for "each instance of indecent speech, substantially upping the penalties for an un-bleeped curse word." The appeals court found "indecent speech" to be a vague enough category to impinge on free speech, ruling "the FCC effectively chills speech because broadcasters have no way of know what the FCC will find offensive.” The court's decision will not only be a boon to awards shows, which will now be less fearful of the late-bleeped curse word, but also scripted series like Family Guy, which can now make horse-semen jokes with no fear of retribution. [Media Decoder/NYT]