The attenuated election season has come to a close.
To me it feels as if we’ve been unwittingly cast in a surreal science fiction flick.Networks declare races over while encouraging viewers to tune in for the final tallies.
Maybe soon we’ll all be able return to earth.
When we do, we may not be happy with what we hear on the small screen.
F-Bombs Falling Like Rain
Bono uttered the word at the Golden Globes. Cher and Nicole Richie blurted it out at the Billboard Music Awards.
When the F-word is used on broadcast television, though, public decency laws can be triggered.
The basic idea behind regulations regarding indecent content that is broadcast over the airwaves is that society has an interest in protecting children as it pertains to a medium that belongs to the public.
The daytime and early evening hours (when children are most likely to be watching or listening) have been viewed as traditional time slots, which the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is in charge of overseeing.
After the FCC fined TV networks for broadcasting four-letter words, Fox, NBC, ABC and CBS filed suit, claiming that their First Amendment rights had been violated. A New York federal appellate court agreed.
The FCC appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, setting up a definitive adjudication by the High Court on the limits of the FCC’s power to fine networks for indecent speech.
The Supreme Court will have the final say on the issue of profanity on the air.
Directors, writers, and producers already have a host of platforms in which profanity is routinely used, including cable, satellite radio, and Internet video. Moreover, television and cable networks have available five-second delays and can easily block profane language.
The FCC contends, “Given the core meaning of the 'F-word,' any use of that word or a variation, in any context, inherently has a sexual connotation.”
Arguments will be heard shortly.
Wonder if the lawyers’ comments will be suitable for TV broadcast.
James Hirsen, J.D., M.A. in Media Psychology, is a media analyst, teacher of mass media and entertainment law at Biola University and professor at Trinity Law School.
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