The question of how far government bureaucrats should go to protect American families from profane television content has inched closer to the U.S. Supreme Court, where experts predict the issue eventually will be resolved.
On Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission appealed a court ruling last month that struck down existing indecency policy on grounds that it was unconstitutional.
That ruling by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York has left the industry without federal guidelines as to what is and isn't acceptable content. The decision was hailed as a First Amendment victory by TV executives but blasted by family-values advocates who worry it will lead to more profanity and nudity during prime-time hours when children are tuned in.
In lieu of trying to rewrite its rules to satisfy the court, the FCC has asked for "further consideration of our arguments" from the appeals court.
"The three-judge panel's decision in July raised serious concerns about the commission's ability to protect children and families from indecent broadcast programming," FCC general counsel Austin Schlick said.
The Parents Television Council, incensed at the ruling, quickly praised the FCC's decision to appeal.
"The airwaves have become a battleground for networks to out-cuss, out-sex and out-gore each other, and sadly it is children and families who are in the crossfire," PTC president Tim Winter said. "Our justice system must move quickly to correct the Second Circuit ruling and reaffirm the FCC's statutory authority."