The Los Angeles Times said the case stemmed from unscripted expletives entertainers Bono, Cher and Nicole Richie made on U.S. awards shows.
A three-judge panel of the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals Tuesday reversed the FCC's 2004 edict that declared even accidental bad language missed by network censors was a violation subject to fines for the stations that aired it.
"Under the current policy, broadcasters must choose between not airing or censoring controversial programs and risking massive fines or possibly even loss of their licenses, and it is not surprising which option they choose," Judge Rosemary S. Pooler wrote in Tuesday's 3-0 decision. "Indeed, there is ample evidence in the record that the FCC's indecency policy has chilled protected speech."
"We're reviewing the court's decision in light of our commitment to protect children, empower parents, and uphold the First Amendment," FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said in a statement responding to the appellate panel's ruling Tuesday, the Times reported.