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PTC Responds to Networks’ Supreme Court Filings

The Parents Television Council said the broadcast medium remains uniquely pervasive and if broadcasters think they aren't, they should return their licenses and allow the spectrum to be auctioned "in the public interest."

That came in response to broadcasters' argument in a brief to the Supreme Court Friday that the court should rethink the "uniquely pervasive" and "spectrum-scarcity" arguments for regulating broadcast content.

ABC, CBS and NBC joined Fox in arguing that the Supreme Court should not overturn a lower-court ruling that the Federal Communications Commission's crackdown on fleeting profanities in a Fox awards show was arbitrary and capricious.

While the networks argued that the FCC violated the Administrative Procedures Act by not sufficiently justifying a change in regulatory policy, they also suggested that the court might want to rethink the precedents set in two Supreme court cases, the Pacifica decision (uniquely pervasive) and Red Lion (scarcity).

“At long last, the TV networks show their true colors. They don’t want ‘guidance’ on what is or is not a legally indecent broadcast; they want the law overturned entirely,” PTC president Tim Winter said in a statement.

The PTC called on Congress when it returns from recess to pass a bill introduced last year by Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W. Va.) that would establish that the FCC could enforce its indecency rules against fleeting profanities.

Actually, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, which smacked down the profanity decision, did not say that the FCC could not justify the policy, only that it had not, although the court indicated that it would be a tough job to do so.