Court backs fines for ‘fleeting expletives’ on airwaves

A NARROWLY divided Supreme Court yesterday ruled US regulators can impose fines on television and radio broadcasters for allowing “fleeting expletives” to go out over the airwaves.

In a five-to-four ruling, the court said the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the agency that regulates US broadcast media, was “neither arbitrary nor capricious” in imposing a strict, zero-tolerance policy on vulgar language, overturning an appeals court decision.

The FCC’s 2004 policy change arose after a live 2003 broadcast of the Golden Globe Awards, when U2’s Bono declared his award was “really, really (expletive) brilliant”.


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