Networks finally understand the Constitution

Even though lawsuits like this shouldn’t be necessary, it’s about time the broadcast networks grew a set:

Four TV broadcast networks and their affiliates have filed court challenges to a March 15 Federal Communications Commission ruling that found several programs “indecent” because of language.

ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox, along with their network affiliate associations and the Hearst-Argyle Television group of stations, filed notices of appeal in various federal courts, including in Washington D.C. and New York. Some were filed late Thursday and the rest Friday morning.

The move represents a protest against the aggressive enforcement of federal indecency rules that broadcasters have complained are vague and inconsistently applied. Millions of dollars in fines have been levied based on those rules.

The networks need to fight the censorship coming from the FCC more often every time. That won’t happen, but this gives hope that maybe they’re growing a spine. It’s an infant spine, sure, but it’s a start.

Personally, I like this:

The networks and affiliate groups, representing more than 800 individual stations, issued a rare joint statement Friday calling the FCC ruling “unconstitutional and inconsistent with two decades of previous FCC decisions.

“In filing these court appeals we are seeking to overturn the FCC decisions that the broadcast of fleeting, isolated _ and in some cases unintentional _ words rendered these programs indecent.”

“Unconstitutional and inconsistent with two decades…” Blah, blah, blah. They should’ve just stopped with unconstitutional. Using the less severe, but equally offensive, censorship practiced by the FCC for the last two decades as a defense only invites the court to rely on tradition rather than the Constitution. Given how frequently that seems to be happening lately, I want the courts to use clearly absurd logic to insert tradition into “Congress shall make no law…” Instead, we’ll maybe get the status quo from last year. Big deal.

FCC spokeswoman Tamara Lipper said Friday that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled more than 20 years ago that comedian George Carlin’s monologue on the “7 dirty words you can’t say on television and radio” was indecent.

“Today, Disney, Fox and CBS challenged that precedent and argued that they should be able to air two of those same words,” Lipper said. “We are reviewing their filings.”

What’s to review? That ruling was wrong then, and it’s wrong now. The Constitution should still prevail over the scared, puritan hacks reading, “interpreting”, and “enforcing” it. At some point, the national mommies and daddies in the Federal government need to stop being nanny-statists.