Supreme Court overrules FCC on TV swearing ban

By Arturo Garcia
Thursday, June 21, 2012 11:54 EDT
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The US Supreme Court is illuminated on April 25 in Washington, DC. The US Supreme Court Monday said it would address the issue of retroactively applying a 2010 decision that immigrants have the right to be told if a guilty plea may lead to deportation. (AFP Photo/Mark Wilson)
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So it turns out you can curse on television – sort of.

According to MSNBC, a ruling by the Supreme Court Thursday waived fines and sanctions against ABC and Fox, saying the Federal Communications Commission did not give them fair notice before punishing them over brief instances of curse words and nudity.

The ruling (PDF), which does not affect the FCC’s overall policy toward profanity, centered on outbursts by Cher and Nicole Richie on live awards shows on FOX and a brief instance of partial nudity shown on ABC’s NYPD Blue.

“Because the Commission failed to give Fox or ABC fair notice prior to the broadcasts in question that fleeting expletives and momentary nudity could be found actionably indecent, the Commission’s standards as applied to these broadcasts were vague,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the unanimous decision, adding that the FCC was free to revise its current policy “in light of its determination of the public interest and applicable legal requirements.”

Video on the decision from MSNBC’s Jansing and Co., aired June 21, is below:

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Arturo Garcia
Arturo Garcia
Arturo R. García is the managing editor at Racialicious.com. He is based in San Diego, California and has written for both print and broadcast media, including contributions to GlobalComment.com, The Root and Comment Is Free. Follow him on Twitter at @ABoyNamedArt
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