Oral Arguments FCC v FU

Washington Wire brings this to my attention about this morning's challenge to FCC indecency rules, broadcast live on C-SPAN cable and radio. C-SPAN’s Potty-Mouth Broadcast. Many profanities were used during the hearing. At issue is the fact that the FCC fines radio stations for such profanities that are regularly used on cable TV with impunity. Even the Judge brought up the issue of whether the FCC would fine radio stations for broadcasting the hearing.


How often does noted Supreme Court specialist Carter Phillips get to drop the f-bomb (and worse) in open court? C-SPAN talked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York into allowing cameras in the court so the hearing could be broadcast live.


Sure enough, the s-words and f-words were flying this morning during the hearing, which C-SPAN broadcast in full, without bleeps. During the hearing, to make a point, Phillips used the words and phrases “motherf—–,” “eat s—” and “f— the USA.”

Here's the link to the RealPlayer video: Second Circuit Court of Appeals Oral Argument: Fox Television v. FCC (12/20/2006) from C-Span raising questions about what is entertainment and what is news and what is news about news and what is....paging Jon Stewart. This is one of those moments when you look into almost parallel mirrors and see images of yourself repeating to infinity or watching yourself watching yourself on TV generating a wormhole to hyperreality.


So, we've discussed cleaning up the language

here at Blue, while radio stations want to drop the bomb as often as they like. Hmmmmmm. I was raised on a steady diet of foul language, so I'm no prude. I'm not fond of the idea of cursing openly on the airwaves, but I'm not a radio listener and neither are either of my kids. I guess like any other programming, a loss of listeners and hence advertising dollars will let the stations know when they've crossed the line.

The idea of the FCC fining the stations for broadcasting the hearing is funny, though.

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

Rush to judgement?

So I guess it mainly affects conservative talk radio so people like Rush can call their listeners s**theads instead of dittoheads.

I don't know

I imagine there are stations with shows that attract listeners who enjoy conversing using foul language. I don't know. This isn't an area where I have a lot of knowledge or experience. I imagine that there are people like me who will turn the radio off if there's a threat they will be showered with obsceneties while they surf the airwaves. It seems this would offer some incentive to self-police. Then again....I don't know.

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

I don't know either how you balance

C-SPAN will also repeat the arguments at 9:15 Wednesday night, and again on Saturday at 7 p.m

Good coverage in this AP story just out

A prior story in the NY Sun explored legal implications.

A professor of entertainment law at the University of California, Los Angeles, Jerry Kang, said broadcasts have traditionally received less First Amendment protections than other forms of speech, partly because they are so easily accessible to children.

Mr. Kang described the case as a "legitimate First amendment question." But he cautioned that "substantial First Amendment doctrine would have to change before the FCC lost this case."
Still, Mr. Kang said the court could rule against the FCC by finding that the new enforcement policy is too vague, a claim that the networks have raised.

Another legal observer said the case presents an important question. The courts have not made clear whether networks should be held liable for offensive material that "slips into" certain types of programming without networks' consent, a law professor at Harvard University, Charles Fried, said.

Don't get it.

It's been a little while since I've been in the states, but frankly, the FCC baffles me at times. I'd prefer that the gov't agency focus on violence on TV and on the radio more than bad language or sexuality. That's the case in Canada with the CRTC. Granted it's far from perfect too.

It's easy not to get

since it's so totally screwed up. I think the US has a lot to learn from other countries about how to deal with sexuality and violence in particular. My wife is an academic rock star in the world of adolescents and sex, so I have a really good understanding of how dysfunctional our systems are right now.

Swiss cheese v Canadian bacon?

As I said over at Daily Kos (thx A), the restrictions on radio and network relative to cable are not too remote form the debate over FCC and/or state utility commission control over providers and/or content. All broadcasting laws will be swiss cheese soon.

There's a huge amount of communications law that has yet to be defined to match today's technology and delivery mechanisms and electronic devices.

Good point

Hi gregflynn,

It's true - the swiss cheese metaphor might fit. But the law in the is area always seems a bit more piecemeal. It will be rather interesting to see how the law will catch up if at all to the huge advances in communications.

However, Canadian bacon is another story. Admittedly, what goes on "up north" may not interest too many, but I couldn't resist. I'll try not to compare and contrast too much.

Who moved the cheese

Well the FCC cheese was shredded in the US Court of Appeals. Just watched it on C-SPAN. Very tasty.

O/T Speaker update

Chris Fitzsimon has a Wednesday update on the race for Speaker at NC Policy Watch

Hackney, Blue, Crawford, Saunders leading the pack. Saunders has the wind of lobbyists behind him. Crawford may have some Republican votes. Michaux, Faison, Holliman and now Tolson also mentioned. Holliman may support Hackney.

Hackney Blue


I could live with that. Might be good to spread the load ... and the power.


No more of this co-leader stuff. We need one speaker with both feet firmly in the Democratic Party mainstream. Anyone who threatens to form a coalition with Republicans should be OUT of the running.

North Carolina is a Democratic state, it's time to start acting like it.

I know that every good and excellent thing in the world stands moment by moment on the razor-edge of danger and must be fought for. ~ Thornton Wilder

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.

Jeez Robert

They're two of the leading progressive voices in the House. Who said anything about Republicans?

I was referring to the above message.

which said....someone....might have some Republican votes. In my book, that guy is, no. If it takes hackney/blue teaming up to win the speakership from some DINO, then fine. I don't like it, but better two progressives (yes I know they are progressives) than a DINO.

NC Defend Health Care

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.

You know

I knew you knew I knew you knew.


Just giving you a hard time, which you deserve because you knew I knew you knew. Or something like that.

News or entertainment

I just watched the whole thing on C-SPAN. It was fascinating, history in the making. The FCC argument is so full of holes you could drive every expletive in the dictionary through it. You can't show Cher on the Golden Globes saying fuck but you can show it on the news or show a judge talking about it. It is so subjective and not subject to any prior understanding. The FCC, having allowed 8 years to pass without action since the Pacifica case, decided arbitrarily at the time of the Golden Globes to become the Ayatollahs of the broadcast airwaves chosing when and how "context" changes indecency.