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Federal Communications Commission v. Fox Television Stations, Inc.

567 U.S. 239 (2012)

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Federal Communications Commission v. Fox Television Stations, Inc.

United States Supreme Court

567 U.S. 239 (2012)

Facts

Fox Television Stations, Inc. (Fox) (defendant) broadcast two programs featuring isolated expletives. ABC Television Network, Inc. (ABC) (defendant) broadcast a program featuring brief nudity. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) (plaintiff) had the statutory authority to fine entities that broadcast indecent programs. At the time of the Fox and ABC incidents, the FCC’s policy was that fleeting expletives and fleeting nudity were not indecent. But after these incidents, the FCC changed its policy, such that fleeting expletives and fleeting nudity were considered indecent. Even though the Fox and ABC incidents took place before the policy change, the FCC applied its new policy and found that the Fox and ABC broadcasts were indecent. Although the FCC imposed a monetary penalty against ABC, it did not impose a penalty against Fox. In FCC v. Fox Television Stations, Inc., 556 U.S. 502 (2009) (Fox I), the United States Supreme Court ruled that the FCC’s policy change did not violate the Administrative Procedure Act. The case was remanded for the court of appeals to address the constitutionality of the FCC’s new indecency policy. On remand from Fox I, the court of appeals held that the FCC’s new policy was unconstitutionally vague and invalidated it in its entirety. The FCC appealed to the United States Supreme Court.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Kennedy, J.)

Concurrence (Ginsburg, J.)

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