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Other First Amendment Issues

The FCC has recently been confronted with several controversial issues concerning indecent or obscene broadcasts. And increasingly suggestive music lyrics prompted the FCC to take action against several licensees in 1987. In a formal Public Notice, the FCC restated a generic definition of indecency, which was subsequently upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals. With encouragement by Congress, the FCC increased its efforts to limit the broadcast of indecent programming material. This action includes such instances as the graphic depiction of aborted fetuses in political advertising. Various FCC enforcement rules, including a 24-hour ban and a “safe harbor period” from midnight to 6 a.m., have been challenged in court.

Currently the FCC has come under criticism on several fronts. Its critics claim that the agency is unnecessary and the Communications Act of 1934 is outdated. Sweeping changes in communications technology are placing new burdens on the commission’s resources. But it remains to be seen whether the FCC will be substantially changed in the future.

Inside Other First Amendment Issues