Children's Groups Weigh In on FCC Indecency Case

United Church of Christ, PTA, Academy of Pediatrics Urge Supreme Court Not to Weaken FCC's Regulatory Authority Over Content

Children's-advocacy groups weighed in on the Federal Communications Commission's Supreme Court appeal of its indecency finding against swearing on Fox's Billboard Music Awards, saying that too broad a decision could hurt kids.

According to a copy of the brief filed with the court, the groups -- which included the United Church of Christ, the PTA and the American Academy of Pediatrics -- said they are not asking the Supremes to decide one way or the other so long as they do not weaken the FCC's regulatory authority over content in the process.

"Of great importance to Amici is that whatever the outcome in this case, the court continues to recognize the constitutional legitimacy of the FCC’s statutory public-interest oversight of television broadcasters," they wrote.

The groups want the FCC to review the lower-court decision narrowly rather than reconsidering its earlier Red Lion decision, as some broadcasters have argued it might have to if it heard the case.

The Red Lion decision established the spectrum-scarcity rationale for regulating broadcast content by according broadcasters lesser First Amendment rights than the printed press.

Revisiting Red Lion, they argued, "is not only unnecessary but could have the unintended consequence of harming children by undermining the constitutional basis of the Children’s Television Act of 1990 and other federal statues and regulations designed to ensure that children have access to quality educational programs designed specifically for them."

The court will not hear the case until the fall or make a ruling until at least early next year, according to attorneys familiar with the process.