Court throws out indecency action

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In potential tide-turning win for broadcasters, a federal appeals court in New York threw out FCC profanity rulings against Fox and ordered the commission to provide better justification for its controversial “fleeting expletives” policy, Broadcasting & Cable reports (PDF of ruling here). The decision was narrow in focus but casts broader doubt on the legal sustainability of the FCC’s holding that “fuck,” “shit” and their derivatives are presumptively indecent, regardless of context. The commissioners first staked out that position in the 2004 Bono decision, which, coupled with Congress’ later ten-fold fine level hike, left broadcasters more skittish than ever about airing edgy content (related story and timeline).

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