IFAS | Freedom Writer | January/February 1989 | fcc.html

FCC muzzles free speech

On the January 18th "People Are Talking" (WWOR-TV), comedienne Joan Rivers commented that people "don't give a shit" whether a New York skyscraper is called the RCA building or the General Electric building. Under a recent Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ruling, Rivers and WWOR-TV risked violating the law.

The FCC which had previously allowed indecency, but not obscenity, to air from midnight to 6 a.m., has now banned indecent material 24 hours a day. The FCC took their cue from Congress, which, pressured by fanatical religious groups, attached a "decency amendment" to a budget appropriations bill.

According to the FCC, indecency is defined as material that "in context, depicts or describes, in terms patently offensive, as measured by contemporary community standards for the broadcast medium, sexual or excretory activities or organs."

Many, even some FCC officials, believe that the new law is unconstitutional. However, until the courts say that this is so, the FCC intends to enforce it.

© 1998 Institute for First Amendment Studies, Inc.