News Corp and the FCC have been battling over decency rules after Cher blurted “fuck” during the 2002 Billboard Music Awards broadcast and Nicole Richie used a variation of that word and “shit” during the 2003 awards, both on the Fox TV network. Today, the U.S. Supreme Court said it would take up this issue of “fleeting indecency” on the airwaves for the first time in 30 years — not since George Carlin’s infamous “Filthy Words” monologue. The high court agreed to hear an appeal by the FCC to review a ruling that undercut the regulator’s definition of indecency and whether it includes a single “fleeting” use of a swear word on TV. Fox has been arguing that the FCC’s decency standard was unclear and violated free-speech protections. FCC chairman Kevin Martin said he’s glad the high court has agreed to review the case. “I continue to believe we have an obligation … to enforce laws restricting indecent language on television and radio when children are in the audience. Fox issued a statement saying it was also pleased by the decision “as this will give us an opportunity to demonstrate once again the arbitrary nature of the FCC’s decision in this and similar cases. It will also give us the opportunity to argue that the FCC’s expanded enforcement of the indecency law is unconstitutional in today’s diverse media marketplace where parents have access to a variety of tools to monitor their children’s television viewing.” The Supreme Court is expected to hear arguments in the case and to issue a decision during its upcoming term that begins in October.
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.