Nellie Andreeva

The legal fight over so-called fleeting expletives continues. The FCC today filed an appeal of the July ruling by a three-judge panel of the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in New York that tossed the agency’s indecency policy, claiming that it “violates the First Amendment because it is unconstitutionally vague, creating a chilling effect that goes far beyond the fleeting expletives at issue here.” The FCC policy was put in place after NBC’s broadcast of the 2003 Golden Globes Awards, in which U2 lead singer Bono used the phrase “f**king brilliant” in his acceptance speech. The FCC said at the time that the F-word in any context “inherently has a sexual connotation” and can lead to enforcement. Fox challenged the rules after becoming an early victim when the FCC found its 2002 and 2003 Billboard Awards broadcasts violated the new policy with profanity use onstage by Cher and Nicole Richie. In its appeal, the FCC said the court’s ruling overstepped its bounds as it didn’t address the constitutionality of banning fleeting expletives but “instead invalidated the agency’s overall approach to indecency enforcement.”

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