Court Rules On Accidental Profanity

Broadcasters seem to have won a round in the battle over the inadvertent use of profanity.

A federal appeals court ruled today that penalizing a broadcaster over accidentally-aired expletives is invalid. And the ruling questions the Federal Communications Commission's assumption that certain swear words are inherently indecent.

The court ruled that the commission's current guidelines are unconstitutionally vague and infringe on First Amendment rights.

But the court did leave the door open for the commission to provide
a "reasoned analysis" for a new approach to indecency and

The broadcasters, led by Fox-television, had asked the court to revoke a Federal Communications Commission ruling that profanity-laced broadcasts on four different shows were indecent.