So, apparently a couple celebrities said some dirty words on a FOX show (the Billboard Music Awards shows, back in 2002 and 2003), and the FCC attempted to slap a fine on them. But the 2nd US Court of Appeals said, no, that was okay.
I get the feeling this date will be remembered as the day the floodgates opened for all kinds of language on public TV. Or, to quote the article, quoting the dissenting judge and the FCC chairman:
In his dissenting judgment, however, Judge Pierre Leval argued strongly against that particular finding. Apart from disagreeing with the key ruling against the FCC, Judge Leval said that he would "put his money" on the FCC's prediction that any relaxation in the law would give broadcasters a "virtual free pass" for indecency.
"The majority's view presupposes that the future would repeat the past. It argues that because the networks were not flooded with discrete, fleeting expletives when fleeting expletives had a free pass, they would not be flooded in the future," Judge Leval wrote.
"This fails to take account of two facts. First, the words proscribed by the Commission's decency standards are much more common in daily discourse today than they were thirty years ago. Second, the regulated networks compete for audience with the unregulated cable channels, which increasingly make liberal use of their freedom to fill programming with such expletives."
That warning was taken up by Kevin Martin, the FCC chairman, in a fierce statement responding to the court's decision - itself peppered with the F-word.
Mr Martin said he completely disagreed with the court and was disappointed for American families. "I find it hard to believe that the New York court would tell American families that "s***" and "f***" are fine to say on broadcast television during the hours when children are most likely to be in the audience.
He added: "If ever there was an appropriate time for Commission action, this was it. If we can't restrict the use of the words "f***" and "s***" during prime time, Hollywood will be able to say anything they want, whenever they want."
I've long been resisting the digital TV era. Primarily, I like the fact that I can take a TV to any room in my house, hook a coaxial cable up to the jack, and get all the TV I want. The thought of having to use (and pay rent for) another box for any TV I want to use just irritates me to no end. So I've long since dreading the impending doom of analog cable.
Fortunately, it appears that problem has been solved. If TV gets a free pass for foul language, I will be canceling cable TV altogether. Can't say that we'll miss it.