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Press Release

June 11, 2008

PTC Files Amicus Brief in Support of FCC’s Authority to Prevent Profanity on Public Airwaves


LOS ANGELES (June 11, 2008) - The Parents Television Council™ filed an Amicus brief in the FCC vs. Fox Television Stations case to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court.  The Court will hear the FCC challenge of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that overturned FCC decisions finding as indecent the airing of the “F-word” and “S-word” during Fox’s live broadcasts of the 2002 and 2003 Billboard Music Awards’ shows.  The PTC and its members filed FCC indecency complaints over these two incidents.


“Our Amicus brief asks the Supreme Court to address the constitutionality of the FCC’s ability to enforce the broadcast decency law.  Rather than simply ruling on an administrative aspect of this matter, we hope the Court will fully rebuke last year’s Second Circuit Court decision.  That decision ran contrary to nearly 80 years of jurisprudence about the publicly-owned airwaves, not to mention running contrary to the overwhelming sense of the nation,” said PTC President Tim Winter.


“Two federal judges in New York City ostensibly stole the airwaves from the public and handed ownership to the TV networks.  They said that broadcasters can use the ‘F-word’ and ‘S-word’ in front of children at any time of the day.  We urge the Supreme Court to reverse the lower court’s decision which clearly defies the public interest, congressional intent, long-established law and common sense.”


Excerpts from the PTC’s Amicus brief are as follows:


“The times may be different, but the salient facts in [FCC vs.] Pacifica and in this case are the same.

  • “Broadcast television is still a uniquely pervasive influence in America, it is still uniquely accessible to children, and it still confronts the viewer in the privacy of the home.

  • “The FCC’s action under review here is not a ban on broadcasting, only a channeling of certain kinds of language to a time when children are less likely to be watching and listening.  The same was true in Pacifica.

  • “Here, as in Pacifica, the order at issue is from an agency with long experience in the area being regulated and it is declaratory, not punitive.  The FCC has not levied any penalty against Fox arising out of the 2002 and 2003 broadcasts.

  • “And, of course, here and in Pacifica the broadcast medium is one that traditionally has been afforded less First Amendment protection than others.

“All of those facts were important to the holding in Pacifica, and all of them are present in this case.


“The FCC’s new enforcement policy is not about whether broadcasters can ever broadcast expletives or other indecent speech; it is about when they can do so.”


PTC President Winter added that, “The simple solution here is that broadcasters could and should adopt a zero-tolerance policy towards indecency, just as they promised they would during a Congressional tribunal after the Janet Jackson incident.  Implementing a 10-second delay, especially during live broadcasts, would go a long way to curb indecent programming on television and would help to protect America’s children and families.”


To speak with a representative from the Parents Television Council, please contact Kelly Oliver (ext. 140) or Megan Franko (ext. 148) at (703) 683-5004.

The Parents Television Council™ (www.parentstv.org®) is a non-partisan education organization advocating responsible entertainment. It was founded in 1995 to ensure that children are not constantly assaulted by sex, violence and profanity on television and in other media. This national grassroots organization has more than 1.3 million members across the United States, and works with television producers, broadcasters, networks and sponsors in an effort to stem the flow of harmful and negative messages targeted to children. The PTC also works with elected and appointed government officials to enforce broadcast decency standards. Most importantly, the PTC produces critical research and publications documenting the dramatic increase in sex, violence and profanity in entertainment. This information is provided free of charge so parents can make informed viewing choices for their own families.




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