Court okays FCC fines on indecent broadcasts, for now at least

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The Supreme Court yesterday ruled narrowly in favor of Federal Communications Commission’s penalties for broadcasters airing “fleeting expletives,” but it did not address questions about whether the FCC’s system of policing the airwaves is constitutional. The decision, which backed the $325,000 fines that the FCC began imposing in 2004 for each broadcast of certain “dirty words,” makes it “quite easy to imagine a majority coming together to nullify the FCC’s present policy,” according to this analysis by SCOTUSblog, which follows the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, political instability at the FCC makes it difficult for Beltway insiders to predict how the commission will react to the decision, according to the Washington Post.