Feature

‘Fleeting expletives’

A federal appeals court has struck down the Federal Communications Commission’s ban on the airing of “fleeting expletives.”

A federal appeals court has struck down the Federal Communications Commission’s ban on the airing of “fleeting expletives,” saying the speech restriction was unconstitutionally broad and vague. The FCC had invoked the policy in several instances of celebrities using profanities during live broadcasts, fining the networks that had aired the blue language.

The court’s unanimous ruling said the FCC’s current policy creates “a chilling effect” on speech, because broadcasters could not be certain what language would fall foul of the FCC’s standards. But the court said that the commission could set speech standards, if they were more precise than the current ones.

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