Fox and ABC say tougher FCC regulations of broadcasters regarding expletives and partial nudity are discriminatory in an age when cable and Internet programs are not similarly regulated.
The US Supreme Court is set to hear oral argument on Tuesday in a case that examines whether tougher indecency standards enforced against broadcast television companies in recent years violate free speech protections of the First Amendment.
The tougher regulations subjected broadcast companies to substantial fines for the use of an isolated expletive or partial nudity during prime time programming.
For decades, the FCC had embraced a more lax enforcement posture, allowing the occasional four-letter “blooper” without subjecting broadcast companies to enforcement actions.
That changed in 2004, when the FCC shifted course and beefed up its policy on foul language and nudity on broadcast television.
Broadcasters are objecting to the policy change, claiming it is so ill-defined that it denies companies fair notice of what is banned. They also argue that such government censorship violates the free speech protections of the First Amendment.
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