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US Supreme Court to Examine On-Air Profanity


The U.S. Supreme Court says it will decide whether broadcasters can be punished if expletives are used on public radio or television.

The Court announced Monday that it will review and clarify government standards on the use of profanity.

At issue is whether the regulatory body that governs public broadcasts, the Federal Communications Commission, can punish broadcasters when people use fleeting, occasional expletives, as opposed to using such language deliberately and repetitively.

This stems from a lawsuit brought by Fox Broadcasting after the company was reprimanded when celebrities Cher and Nicole Richie uttered expletives during televised award shows. The FCC did not impose a fine on Fox in these instances.

The Court has not ruled on a broadcast indecency case in 30 years.

The FCC has been charged with the task of policing public airwaves for offensive language of a sexual or excretory nature. But broadcasters say they are not clear if or when such language is ever permissible.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.

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