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Court Throws Out FCC Fines For Cursing, Nudity

(credit: Len Redkoles/Getty Images)

(credit: Len Redkoles/Getty Images)

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By Cherri Gregg

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – On Thursday, the United States Supreme Court unanimously tossed fines and sanctions against broadcasters who violated Federal Communications Commission policies on curse words and nudity on TV.

“World Champions! World F****** Champions!”

That was Chase Utley on live TV in 2008 after the Phillies won the World Series.

At one time, one f-bomb wouldn’t get you in trouble. But in 2002, the FCC cracked down, fining ABC and FOX Television hundreds of thousands in fines for fleeting curse words by celebrities and a flash of nudity on a TV show.

Penn Law Professor Christopher Yoo says the Supreme Court reversed the sanctions because the rules on indecency were unclear.

“The FCC had previously said it would only criminalize repetitive and deliberate uses. And without notice, the FCC began enforcing it against isolated and occasional uses of profanity on air,” Yoo explained.

But Yoo says the Supreme Court decision doesn’t mean it’s OK to use the f-bomb on airwaves, but with massive changes in technology, those days could be coming.

“The old standard may not have many friends at all,” Yoo said.

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