NAB Brief Due at Supreme Court

National Association of Broadcasters to file in support of Fox, in opposition to FCC's challenge.
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The National Association of Broadcasters is planning to file a brief in the Supreme Court Friday in support of Fox and in opposition to the FCC's challenge of a lower-court ruling that the commission's fleeting profanity policy was insufficiently justified.

With amicus briefs due Aug. 8, the NAB is expected to tell the court that it has constitutional issues with the FCC's enforcement of its policies and their chilling effect on broadcasters, but it is also expected to talk about the impact it has had on broadcasters' business, as well as its speech rights.

For example, to help clear up the backlog of TV-station transfers and license renewals held up by a raft of unresolved indecency fines, including those against CBS stations for Without a Trace and NBC for the singer Bono's “f___ing brilliant” comment, the FCC began to allow stations to sign the agreements, which gives the FCC extra time to look into the complaints in exchange for allowing a station deal to go through.

But that means the FCC can sit on a complaint until the last minute and get a reprieve from stations given the leverage it has over licenses.

Deals cannot be approved, or licenses renewed, when there is an outstanding complaint, so owners looking to sell their stations have agreed to extend the FCC's statute of limitations on taking some action, giving the FCC another two or three years, depending on the agreement.

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