Supreme Court swears in favor of FCC vs. Fox


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Unlike ‘American Idol,’ there’s no judge’s save rule this season at the Supreme Court, which found against Fox and in favor of the Federal Communications Commission’s decision to fine the network for airing expletives by Nicole Richie and Cher during its live broadcast of the Billboard Music Awards in 2002 and 2003.

The 5-4 ruling undoes Fox’s win in the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, which found that the FCC failed to justify the change in its regulations regarding so-called fleeting expletives.


But Fox will live to sing its case another day. While the high court said in a 5-4 decision that it was in the FCC’s purview to regulate the broadcast of fleeting expletives, it did not speak to the constitutional questions Fox raised in its challenge and instead remanded that issue back to the 2nd Circuit. Writing for the majority, Justice Antonin Scalia said the FCC’s policy was neither ‘abitrary nor capricious,’ but added that it was possible the FCC’s rules ‘may cause some broadcasters to avoid certain language that is beyond the Commission’s reach under the Consititution.’

Fox said in a statement that while it would have preferred a victory at the high court, it ultimately expects to prevail at the 2nd Circuit.

-- Joe Flint