Fox Wins Allies In FCC Indecency Fight - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

07:56 PM

Fox Wins Allies In FCC Indecency Fight

Fox, the Center for Democracy and Technology, and the Progress & Freedom Foundation charge that the FCC makes it easy for small, vocal groups to block content they don't like.

Two online advocacy groups joined Fox Television's lawsuits challenging Federal Communications Commission rulings on indecency, arguing that the FCC's loose standards makes it easy for small, vocal groups to block content they don't like.

The Center for Democracy and Technology, which doesn't normally get involved in broadcast matters, announced that it had joined the Progress & Freedom Foundation in filing amicus briefs in the U.S. Court of Appeals 2nd and 3rd circuits Thursday.

"The FCC's increasingly aggressive attempts to control speech on the radio and television are on a collision course with a wave of technological change that will soon render the commission's involvement in these matters obsolete," CDT Staff Counsel John Morris said. "As the distinctions between broadcast and digital media fade into history, policy makers, technologists, and civil libertarians must work together to ensure that the light-touch approach to Internet communications, and not the outdated rules for broadcast, becomes the standard for regulation in the converged media world."

The groups argue that the FCC's indecency rulings violate the First Amendment and the Administrative Procedures Act. They claim the FCC fails to identify the "community standards" applied as a test for indecency, making it easy for small vocal groups to block content that they do not like.

The FCC acknowledges that it has strengthened enforcement in recent years. In 2004, it drew $8 million in fines from 12 cases. However, the FCC maintains that is protects First Amendment rights and respects broadcasters' freedom of speech. It also publishes explanations of how it determines whether material is indecent or obscene.

The CDT and PFF also are questioning the FCC's authority to enforce indecency standards. They claim that the FCC gained its authority to restrict broadcast material during an era when families couldn't control media content in their homes.

"That is simply not the case in the digital world, and the FCC cannot be allowed to extend its archaic authority to other technologies, where user control is a built-in function," the CDT and PFF explained in a joint statement.

Adam Theier, senior fellow and director of the Center for Digital Media Freedom at PFF, said that, with the V-chip and other filtering technologies, the government "no longer has a compelling interest in imposing an amorphous community standard on Americans."

The PFF, CDT, Fox and other broadcasters want federal judges to overturn FCC indecency rulings.

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
The State of Cloud Computing - Fall 2020
The State of Cloud Computing - Fall 2020
Download this report to compare how cloud usage and spending patterns have changed in 2020, and how respondents think they'll evolve over the next two years.
Top 10 Data and Analytics Trends for 2021
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps,  11/13/2020
Where Cloud Spending Might Grow in 2021 and Post-Pandemic
Joao-Pierre S. Ruth, Senior Writer,  11/19/2020
The Ever-Expanding List of C-Level Technology Positions
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek,  11/10/2020
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Current Issue
Why Chatbots Are So Popular Right Now
In this IT Trend Report, you will learn more about why chatbots are gaining traction within businesses, particularly while a pandemic is impacting the world.
White Papers
Twitter Feed
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Sponsored Video
Flash Poll