FCC

FCC Takes Public Comments on Controversial 'Indecency' Policy

Maybe it's time for a little free speech

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Just as he is about to exit, FCC chairman Julius Genachowski is setting up a question that will be left to his successor: Just how should the agency deal with a backlog of indecency complaints.

Given the propensity for watchdog groups to complain that the agency is too lax, and broadcasters to sue the FCC for being too vague, it's doubtful that any new policy will be anything other than a can of worms.

On April 1, the agency opened the docket on whether to adopt a policy where it investigates only "egregious" cases of indecency, a seeming change from a policy adopted in 2004 that sanctioned even "fleeting" swear words as well as nudity. The problem with the latter is that the networks found little rhyme or reason to the rulings, and twice challenged the the agency at the Supreme Court, seeking to overturn the decisions or to strip the FCC's authority to police content on the airwaves altogether.