Saturday, July 17, 2010

Free Speech for Broadcasters, Too

New York Times
July 16, 2010

Some private functions of the body can be described on broadcast television, but not others. Some four-letter expletives can be said on the air at 10:05 p.m., but not at 9:55 p.m. Characters in some prime-time movies can speak as adults actually do, but not in other movies because they have less artistic value. This irrational and erratic regime of restriction has been swept away by a federal appeals court at the request of broadcasters who have become exasperated by the Federal Communications Commission’s rules.

But a common-sense communications policy should not stop at indecency. The Supreme Court, if it takes up the case, should end all government regulations on the content of broadcasts. Technological change has undermined any justification for limiting the First Amendment rights of broadcast media outlets but not others.