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.