The Supreme Court Hears the Argument For and Against TV Nudity

Senior Pop Culture Editor
01.12.12 18 Comments

Earlier this week, the Federal Communications Commission and Fox Television Stations went before the Supreme Court to argue whether the FCC’s current indecency standards are too vague. (They are.) It’s an attempt by lovers of boobs and the F-word everywhere to overturn a ruling from 1978, which banned TV and radio material deemed “indecent, but not obscene.” Because the FCC said so, that’s why.

From the New York Times:

The FCC’s policy prohibits indecent material and profane speech between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. Violations may result in substantial monetary fines, loss of a broadcast license and other sanctions.

The agency has applied this policy so inconsistently that, as a brief for ABC Inc. and others argued, “broadcasters have no way to know what material the commission will deem indecent.” The FCC’s recent decisions, the brief said, are “a wilderness of confusion,” and fail to give fair notice of what is banned, as the law requires.

My official statement: more swearing and nudity. I’ll let people more legal-minded than I handle the specificities of the government-TV-deciding thingy (HELLOOO, Danger). I’m perfectly content skimming through the official transcript of the case for instances of old people saying “buttocks” and “Paris Hilton,” (un?)fortunately never in the same sentence:

“Well, there’s a bare buttock there, and there’s a bare buttock here. And there may be more that I hadn’t seen.“

“That’s why you get a different rule in Saving Private Ryan than you get with Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie.”

“Let me spend, if I could, a minute on the “NYPD Blue” broadcast. ABC hinges a lot on the notion, Justice Breyer, that this is a non-sexualized episode. I mean, I guess one could make up ones own mind looking at the video. The commission decided that that was — it was essentially voyeurism…The little boy walks into the room at the very end of that segment of nudity.”

“Are they going to be seeing a lot of people parading around in the nude and a stream of expletives?”

That’s all we ask.

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