Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Good for Fox

From today's Washington Post:

In an unusually aggressive step, Fox Broadcasting yesterday refused to pay a $91,000 indecency fine levied by the Federal Communications Commission for an episode of a long-canceled reality television show, even as the network fights two other indecency fines in the Supreme Court.

The FCC proposed fining all 169 Fox-owned and affiliate stations a total of $1.2 million in 2004 for airing a 2003 episode of "Married by America," which featured digitally obscured nudity and whipped-cream-covered strippers.

Fox appealed immediately after the FCC ruling. Last month -- four years later -- the FCC changed its mind, saying it would fine only the 13 Fox stations located in cities that generated viewer complaints about the program. That reduced the fine to $91,000.

Despite the sharp reduction, Fox said it would not pay the fine on principle, calling it "arbitrary and capricious, inconsistent with precedent, and patently unconstitutional" in a statement released yesterday.

We've seen President Bush's FCC take a markedly more aggressive (in my view, unconstitutionally aggressive) approach to regulating "indecent" speech, but the legal tide appears to have recently turned against the agency.  A bit late, but still welcome.


Tom O'Neill said...


Curious about your take on Medellin v. Texas. I haven't read the dissent yet, but this strikes me as a landmark federalism case.


Brian said...

Your wish, Tom, is my command. Check the front page.

Also, if you've haven't read the dissent yet, well ... that's probably a good time-management decision. I skimmed it and it seems like 40 pages of longwinded, off-point argumentation to support his completely unworkable proposed standard for deciding whether treaty obligations are self-executing. In other words, exactly the sort of opinion Justice Breyer is increasingly prone to writing.