Remand Backers Say FCC Is Inconsistent


CBS, Fox, and NBC told a federal appeals court in New York Monday that the FCC's desire for a speedy hearing of CBS' challenge to the Janet Jackson fine in a Philadelphia federal appeals court argue doesn't square with its desire to remand its decision in another indecency case for more review.

In a filing with the court, Fox, its TV stations, CBS and NCB Universal said that "the FCC's recent request for accelerated briefing in a separate indecency appeal [the Jackson fine] exposes the FCC's pending motion to remand this case for what it is: an effort at least to postpone, if not completely evade, judicial review of its Omnibus Order."

They asked for permission to supplement their motions in the case with this new information before the oral arguments on the remand, scheduled for Aug. 29.

The FCC handed out four indecency findings against stations for profanity as part of that March omnibus order. But because the offenses predated its crackdown on language, the FCC did not fine them, said it would not hold the findings against the stations, and bypassed the normal appeals process. The FCC said it was trying to provide stations with the guidance they asked for on what is or isn't indecent.

Networks and affiliates challenged those profanity rulings in the Second Circuit Federal Appeals Court in New York, but before the case could begin, the FCC asked that court to remand the decisions back to the commission, saying not to have given stations a chance to appeal them was a procedural mistake.

ABC, and all the affiliates but Fox 's supported the FCC request for remand, while the other three Big Four networks and the Fox stations opposed the move, preferring the court case proceed and suggesting the FCC is trying to delay that proceeding.