FCC Asks For Comment on Indecency Policy

The FCC is asking for comment on the changes in its policy regarding indecency. In 2004, after a number of high-profile incidents, the FCC reversed longstanding policy and made any broadcast of brief nudity or “isolated expletives” (even if inadvertent), a violation of indecency rules. The subsequent fines imposed on broadcasters resulting from these incidents were challenged in the courts, and in 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court found the change in policy did not provide enough notice to broadcasters, was too vague, and vacated the FCC’s actions.

In response, the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau has decided to focus only on the most “egregious” cases of broadcast indecency. It is now asking for comment on whether it should maintain its “isolated expletives” policy established in 2004 or return to the prior standard of “deliberate and repetitive use [of expletives] in a patently offensive manner.”  It is also asking whether non-sexual nudity should be treated the same or differently as isolated expletives.

The notice for comment has not yet been published in the Federal Register, but once it is published comments will be due within 30 days.  

If you have any questions, you can reach Dan Jaffe in ANA’s Washington office at 202-296-2359 or at djaffe@ana.net.