"An era can be said to end when its basic illusions are exhausted." - Arthur Miller

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

First Admendment: 1, FCC: 0

The FCC of late has been on a rampage inconsistantly appling its definition of "indencey" against the broadcast networks for the last couple years, often with big expensive fines. Or as the 4th Appeal Court judges put it, they apply their rules in "arbitrary and capricious" ways.

As a result of this the networks finally had enough and decided to fight back. Before, its was simply cheaper to pay the fine and move on but when it got capped to something like $225,000 per instance, per station, well your talking millions. What made it worse is often the "complaints" the FCC was investigating in basing its decisions where often online form letters from Focus in the Family and other organizations. Not even real consumer complaints but people who have nothing else to do but look for "unchristen" type behavior on network television.

The networks had many arguements for fighting back, the least of which was the 1st admendment. The FCC's arguements, well they came down to "hey can't use sex words on TV!" even if the context of the words had nothing to do with sex. Well the FCC lost. In effect, the FCC has been stripped of its ability to tell the networks what they can and cannot air as any attempt to fine them can just point back to this ruling. The FCC is probably going to fight this to the Supreme Court as most of their responsibilities nowadays seems to just be policing the networks. Its possible that the right leaning Supreme Court could back the FCC but even the Fox Network is against them so no telling how it will go. Either way, right now its score one for the 1st admendment. Now if only something could be done about the RIAA and MPAA.

For an excellent breakdown of the ruling by Jeff Jarvis, click here.

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