High Court To Rule On "Fleeting Obscenities"
The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to rule on Fox's challenge to the FCC's decision on "fleeting obscenities," which held that any utterance of a four-letter word during a live telecast during the hours before 10:00 p.m. is subject to punitive fines. Both Fox -- and network television executives in general -- and FCC Chairman Kevin Martin welcomed the high court's decision to intervene in the matter. Martin maintained that he believes that the government is obliged "to enforce laws restricting indecent language on television and radio when children are in the audience." Fox observed that in "today's diverse media marketplace" parents have "a variety of tools" to protect their children if they so wish. Speaking for the industry, Dennis Wharton, executive vice president of the National Assn. of Broadcasters, said that it was pleased "that justices will provide badly needed clarity to both broadcasters and policymakers on this critically important First Amendment case."