I know what Bono and the broadcast networks will call today’s ruling on FCC’s policy on fleeting expletives by a federal appeals court – “f**king brilliant.” In a major victory for the U.S. broadcasters, the three-judge panel of the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeal tossed the FCC indecency rules, 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. The network was obviously pleased by today’s ruling. “We have always felt that the government’s position on fleeting expletives was unconstitutional,” it said in a statement. Who wasn’t happy? Conservative watchdog Parent’s Television Coincil. “For parents and families around the country, this ruling is nothing less than a slap in their face,” PTC president Tim Winter said.