In the word's of Bono, the Supreme Court's ruling on FCC v. Fox was "effing brilliant!" Today, the Supreme Court thew out fines against Fox and other broadcasters by the Federal Communications Commission for fleeting expletives or nudity on TV. It was a narrow ruling that won't have a huge effect on FCC standards going forward but ends a legal battle over one of live televisions most famous curse moments. "The justices declined on Thursday to issue a broad ruling on the constitutionality of the FCC indecency policy," the AP reports. "Instead, the court concluded only that broadcasters could not have known in advance that obscenities uttered during awards show programs and a brief display of nudity on an episode of ABC's NYPD Blue could give rise to sanctions." Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the court's decision, which was unanimous. “The Commission failed to give Fox or ABC fair notice prior to the broadcasts in question that fleeting expletives and momentary nudity could be found actionably indecent,” he said.
The justices said the FCC could revise its rather outdated policies (do they know what people can see on the Internet?) but wasn't going to force its hand. The case revolved around Bono's famous "effing brilliant" exaltation in 2003 during a broadcast of the Golden Globes as well as nude scenes in NYPD Blue on ABC. As The Christian Science Monitor's Jim Sollisch has noted, Supreme Court deliberations have revealed the limits of censoring content on TV. "The problem with regulation is that we can only regulate what we can regulate. It’s easy to regulate the f-word but not all the disturbing subject matter that finds its way into almost every sitcom, drama, and newscast," he wrote Monday.
The Supreme Court did not weigh in on the much anticipated Obamacare case, which is now expected next week, as soon as Monday. In the meantime, let's just relive Bono's famous SCOTUS-sanctioned moment:
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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