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The Federal Communication Commission vs Fox Television

The Federal Communication Commission vs Fox Television Statements is the legal case that took place in 2009 and in which the United States Supreme Court supported the regulation of the Comission to prohibit “fleeting expletives” on television broadcasts.

The case entered in 2007, but the story began much more earlier: “At the December 2002 Billboard Music Awards, Cher waved her “Lifetime Achievement” trophy and said, “People have been telling me I’m on the way out every year, right? So (expletive) ’em.” At the Golden Globes the next month, U2 lead singer Bono accepted an award by saying, “This is really, really (expletive) brilliant.” At another Billboard Awards in 2003, TV star Nicole Richie used expletives as she joked about removing cow manure from a purse” (Joan Biskupic, 2008). The Federal Communication Commission reacted on prohibition the profanity as verbal as well as visual on the TV screens, according to the viewers complaints about the incidents:

“As the Federal Communications Commission was reviewing viewer complaints about the incidents, Janet Jackson’s breast was exposed during a Super Bowl halftime show on Feb. 1, 2004. The next month, the FCC, in an unprecedented move, said that even a one-time use of vulgarities associated with “sexual and excretory functions” violated indecency standards. It cited NBC for Bono’s remarks, then Fox Television for those by Cher and Richie” (Joan Biskupic, 2008). The result of the such actions actually turned into the legal battle between the Federal Communication Commission and Fox Television Statements. The question is quest a controversial one, but the same time the court decision as well as Commission banning could be referred to as reaction on the complaints sent by the viewers. In 2004 there was received 1,4 millions of complaints from the viewers and this fact significantly influenced on the commission’s reactions.

The representatives of the media consider that the Federal Communication Commission has become more aggressive since then, providing strict measures and changing its course: “The FCC has become more aggressive in policing indecent content, imposing more and heavier fines for radio and TV violations. In the late 1990s, total annual indecency fines hovered around $40,000; in the first six months of 2006, the total was $3.9 million. Some have been appealed and reduced. Congress last year voted overwhelmingly to increase the maximum fine against a station for an indecency violation from $32,500 per occurrence to $325,000” (Joan Biskupic, 2008). That caused the number of debate on the question of increasing censorship and violating the first amendments that states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances” ( Thomson Reuters Business, 2010). The same time the representative of the opposite side, Common Sense Media CEO James Steyer insisted on the fact that: “Today the U.S. Supreme Court made a crucial and wise decision upholding the Federal Communications Commission’s right to regulate the airwaves on behalf of kids and families” (John Eggerton, 2009).

The question could hardly leave anyone indifferent thus it would be very hard to define whether such censorship violates the rights of press.

Personally I support the decision of the Supreme Court as it reflect the position of those who have children. It is essential that many of them are eager to watch the ceremonies of Awards, looking at the people they want to be alike. Everyone of us had a secret love or a certain idol he or she would be alike when grow up. What an example do our children have when they hear these rude, offensive to the ear words? What ethical issues we would cultivate in out future, our children? I bet this won’t be a good behavior and politeness.

The celebrities as well as television have a significant impact on the contemporary children and unfortunately parents could not protect their kids from the learning rude words and expletive expression. Still such words heard from the TV screens, in public could hardly have a good influence on the children.

In the present day United States many children have free access to Internet and even if we imagine that after hearing a word (a meaning he or she does not know) a child would go for computer search and not asking his mom or dad about. How many abusive, pornographic and other links, picture and videos he or she would get? The answer is evident and it is not very pleasant for us. That is why I think that propaganda of rudeness and verbal profanity or visual indecency or obscenity should be prohibited.

I think that in this case it does not go about freedom of press or freedom of choice, it hopes about our future, it is a national question, as it goes about the mental health and normal psyche statement of the future generations. Their ability to see something that could cause significant stress is too high in the present day world and television by broadcasting freely such shows does not play for a good advantage for the children and their parents.

I think that this decision does not infringe upon the free press interests as it goes about the question of ethics and morality. America needs healthy generations and this decision does not violate the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, but protects young Americans from abuse. I think that the television managers should take into account public opinion, but not only the rating of the channel and the show itself. The Federal Communication Commission is standing on the guard of the American’s interests and this decision banning fleeting expletives is the action of protection and could hardly be regarded as censorship.

Earlier the commission was not allowed to fine the media for translation such incidents: “That, in essence, was the decision on Monday, when a federal appeals panel struck down the government policy that allows stations and networks to be fined if they broadcast shows containing obscene languageAlthough the case was primarily concerned with what is known as “fleeting expletives,” or blurted obscenities, on television, both network executives and top officials at the Federal Communications Commission said the opinion could gut the ability of the commission to regulate any speech on television or radio” (Stephen Labaton, 2007). But now the changes of the policy are upheld by Supreme Court of the United States. The complaints of Americans sent to the Federal Communication Commission were not just empty words and now parents could be persuaded that children won’t hear any rude and obscene words from the TV. Still this victory does not mean the solving of question and there are a number of threats that could have serious and negative influence on children. I do not think that this case could be regarded as censorship, it was discussed several times and before the court supported the broadcasting corporations. The changes strategy of the Federal Communication Commission showed that the government is thinking about the future generation of the United States America. It has a significant impact on the lives of people, especially those who have children. I think that these change of strange is for better and government should support the television corporation in their intentions for the changes, which are now submitted legally.


1. Joan Biskupic. Fight over TV indecency is on high court’s doorstep. USA Today. October 25, 2007
2. John Eggerton. Opinions Divided Over Close Profanity Decision. Broadcasting & Cable. April 28, 2009.
3. John Eggerton. Supreme Court Backs Government Regulation of Fleeting Expletives. Broadcasting & Cable. April 28, 2009.
4. John Eggerton. Second Circuit Schedules Oral Arguments In Fox Vs. FCC. Supreme Court returned case to circuit court in April. Broadcasting & Cable. December 18, 2009
5. Thomson Reuters. 2010. U.S. Constitution: First Amendment. 02.12.2010. FindLaw official Web Site. <http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/data/constitution/amendment01/>
6. Stephen Labaton. Court Rebuffs F.C.C. on Fines for Indecency. The New York Times. June 5, 2007