Major Public Interest Group Joins Networks to Oppose FCC’s Indecency Enforcement

Media Access Project says rules have a “chilling effect” on artistic expression

A major public interest group is siding with television broadcasters in their legal challenge to the Federal Communications Commission's ability to levy fines for indecent content. 

Media Access Project announced Thursday that it has filed a brief with the Supreme Court  asking that it affirm a lower court decision that found the FCC’s policies unconstitutional. 

The brief argues that the FCC’s policy has a "chilling effect" on artists freedom of speech.

"The FCC has replaced a policy of reluctance to curb or chill the expression of broadcast licensees and creators with a standardless and largely meaningless framework," the brief reads.  

Also read: Appeals Court Rules for CBS, Janet Jackson in 'Wardrobe Malfunction' Case

The commission's constitutional right to fine broadcasters who air profanity and nudity will become an issue during the Supreme Court's 2011-2012 slate of hearings, which includes a case involving 2002 and 2003 award shows on Fox in which Bono, Cher and Nicole Richie used profane language.

A second case on the docket has to do with actress Charlotte Ross briefly exposing her buttocks in a 2003 episode of “NYPD Blue.” The FCC fined 52 ABC affiliates a total of $1.4 million.

The move comes a day after a Philadelphia appeals court reaffirmed its 2008 decision that the FCC wrongly fined Janet Jackson and CBS for a "wardrobe malfunction" during the 2004 Super Bowl broadcast that briefly left the singer's breast exposed.