The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in favor of television networks in their fight against the Federal Communications Commission's regulation of broadcast profanity and nudity, Deadline reports.
With an 8-0 vote, the court found the FCC's policies too vague to be applied to the specific incidents in question, which included a 2003 NYPD Blue episode on ABC that featured a naked woman's buttocks as well as Fox's telecasts of the 2002 and 2003 Billboard Music Awards, during which presenters Cher and Nicole Richie used profanity.
However, the justices' decision did not include a ruling on whether the indecency policy violates constitutional free-speech rights, allowing the court to amend its stance in regards to future cases.
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During Thursday's ruling, in which ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox were parties, the court ruled that the FCC had not given the broadcasters a fair notice of their policy changes. Under the new policy, which was originated in 2001 and was amended in 2004, the FCC could fine broadcasters for airing a single profanity or brief nudity. For each violation between the hours of 6 am and 10 pm, the FCC can impose fines of $325,000 on each station that aired the material.
"The commission failed to give Fox or ABC fair notice prior to the broadcasts in question that fleeting expletives and momentary nudity could be found actionably indecent," Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the majority.
ABC said in a statement: "We're pleased with the decision of the Supreme Court regarding the episode of NYPD Blue, and we are reviewing the entire ruling carefully."
Do you think the ruling was fair?