By Nate Anderson | Published: July 20, 2007 - 12:21PM CT
A recent decision from the Second Circuit Court of Appeals made the occasional f-bomb safe for network viewing, but some senators now want to ensure that even a single blue comment or image can be grounds for an FCC slapdown.
S. 1780, the Protecting Children from Indecent Programming Act, has just cleared the Senate Commerce Committee and is now on its way to the full Senate. The bill, only a few sentences long, makes it clear that the FCC has the ability to regulate even fleeting uses of indecent words and images.
The Second Circuit ruled earlier this year that such a policy change (the FCC formerly focused on material that "dwells" on indecent content) was "arbitrary and capricious." Sen. John Rockefeller (D-WV) and Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR) then introduced the bill to give the FCC a good reason for its actions, and it found support from the two aging chairmen of the Senate Commerce Committee, Daniel Inouye (D-HI) and Ted "Bridge to Nowhere" Stevens (R-AK).
During a committee meeting, Stevens told his colleagues, "Radio and broadcast TV are still the way most Americans get their news and entertainment. And whether sitting in a car with your children or in front of the TV, the American public should be able to expect that they will not be barraged with unexpected indecency, whether it is through an image or a word."
The bill would still allow the FCC to consider single words and images in context, and it does not issue any guidance on whether any particular words or images are indecent. Still, we're pretty sure Nicole Ritchie's "Have you ever tried to get cow sh-- out of a Prada purse? It's not so f------ simple" was the sort of thing senators had in mind as being ripe for censorship.