This essay FCC vs Pacifica Broadcasting Foundation has a total of 2481 words and 10 pages.
FCC vs Pacifica Broadcasting Foundation
In 1978 a radio station owned by Pacifica Foundation Broadcasting out of New York City was doing a program on contemporary attitudes toward the use of language. This broadcast occurred on a mid-afternoon weekday. Immediately before the broadcast the station announced a disclaimer telling listeners that the program would include "sensitive language which might be regarded as offensive to some."(Gunther, 1991) As a part of the program the station decided to air a 12 minute monologue called "Filthy Words" by comedian George Carlin. The introduction of Carlin\'s "routine" consisted of, according to Carlin, "words you couldn\'t say on the public air waves."(Carlin, 1977) The introduction to Carlin\'s monologue listed those words and repeated them in a variety of colloquialisms: I was thinking about the curse words and the swear words, the cuss words and the words that you can\'t say, that you\'re not supposed to say all the time. I was thinking one night about the words you couldn\'t say on the public, ah, airwaves, um, the ones you definitely wouldn\'t say, ever. Bastard you can say, and hell and damn so I have to figure out which ones you couldn\'t and ever and it came down to seven but the list is open to amendment, and in fact, has been changed, uh, by now. The original seven words were shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker, and tits. Those are the ones that will curve your spine, grow hair on your hands and maybe, even bring us, God help us, peace without honor, and a bourbon. (Carlin, 1977)
A man driving with his young son heard this broadcast and reported it to the Federal Communications Commission [FCC]. This broadcast of Carlin\'s "Filthy Words" monologue caused one of the greatest and most controversial cases in the history of broadcasting: The FCC v. Pacifica Foundation.
The outcome of this case has had a lasting effect on what we hear on the radio. This landmark case gave the FCC the "power to regulate radio broadcasts that are indecent but not obscene." (Gunther, 1991) What does that mean, exactly? According to the government it means that the FCC can only regulate broadcasts. They cannot censor broadcasts, meaning, the FCC has the power to determine what is offensive in the matters of speech.
Before this case occurred there were certain laws already in place that prohibited obscenity over radio. One of these laws was the "law of nuisance". This law "generally speaks to channeling behavior more than actually prohibiting it."(Simones, 1995) The law in essence meant that certain words depicting a sexual nature were limited to certain times of the day when children would not likely be exposed.
There were no specific laws or surveillance by regulatory groups to assure that indecent and obscene material would not be broadcast. Broadcasters were trusted to regulate themselves and what they broadcast “suitable” and compliant material over the airwaves. Therefore, when the case of the FCC vs. Pacifica made its way to the Supreme Court it was a dangerous and controversial decision for the Supreme Court to make. The ultimate question came down to, could the government regulate the freedom of speech?
Carlin\'s monologue was speech according to the first amendment. (Simones, 1995) Because of this, Pacifica argued, "the first amendment prohibits all governmental regulation that depends on the content of speech."(Gunther, 1991) "However there is no such absolute rule mandated by the constitution," according to the Supreme Court.(Gunther, 1991). Leaving the question of "whether a broadcast of patently offensive words dealing with sex and excretion may be regulated because of its content. The fact that society may find speech offensive is not a sufficient reason for suppressing it."(Gunther, 1991) The Supreme Court deemed that Carlin’s words offend for the same reasons that obscenity offends. They also state "these words, even though they had no literary meaning or value, were still protected by the first amendment."(Gunther, 1991)
So, what does this mean to the American public? This decision gave our government the power to regulate, whereas it did not before. Broadcasting, out of all forms of communication, has received the most limited protection of the first amendment. There are two main reasons why. First, "the broadcast media have established a uniquely pervasive presence in the lives
Topics Related to FCC vs Pacifica Broadcasting Foundation
Censorship of broadcasting in the United States, Federal Communications Commission, Free speech activists, Obscenity law, Sirius Satellite Radio, Seven dirty words, FCC v. Pacifica Foundation, George Carlin, Howard Stern, The Howard Stern Show, Freedom of speech in the United States, Obscenity
Essays Related to FCC vs Pacifica Broadcasting Foundation
Television CensorshipTelevision Censorship WHAT IS CENSORSHIP? Censorship is the supervision and control of the information and ideas that are circulated among the people within a society. In modern times, censorship refers to the examination of books, periodicals, plays, films, television and radio programs, news reports, and other communication media for the purpose of altering or suppressing parts thought to be objectionable or offensive. The objectionable material may be considered immoral or obscene, heretical
Television CensorshipTelevision Censorship TELEVISION CENSORSHIP WHAT IS CENSORSHIP? Censorship is the supervision and control of the information and ideas that are circulated among the people within a society. In modern times, censorship refers to the examination of books, periodicals, plays, films, television and radio programs, news reports, and other communication media for the purpose of altering or suppressing parts thought to be objectionable or offensive. The objectionable material may be considered immoral
Does the Internet Bring Freedom?Does the Internet Bring Freedom? Will the Internet make the world more free? Some would answer with a resounding yes. Consider, for example, the views of John Perry Barlow of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, who has declared in his widely-circulated Declaration of Independence of Cyberspace (1996): Governments of the Industrial World, you weary giants of flesh and steel, I come from Cyberspace, the new home of Mind….I declare the global social space we are building to be naturally independent
Censorship of the InternetCensorship of the Internet Censorship of the Internet Threatens to Destroy it, While Wide Spread Encryption Could Prevent the Need for Government Intervention. by Pedja Stojanovic EN109 Prof. Thurston ABSTRACT Computerization has influenced everyone\'s life during the last decade. This global net allows a person to send E-mail across the world in mere fractions of a second, and enables common people to access information world-wide. The Internet as network is key to the future of our society. Ho
Why Censorship is WrongWhy Censorship is Wrong One of the primary legal issues in the battle over censorship on the internet is the question of whether or not it is a print or a broadcast media. When a person sits down at a computer terminal and explores the internet, it is almost the same as if they were in a library, took a book off the shelf, and began reading it. The internet is a printed medium that is accessed using broadcasting communication tools, and should be legally treated as such. In the case, Butler v. M
T.V. ViolenceT.V. Violence As difficult as this issue is, I believe it can be addressed. My report shows that some progress has already begun in several areas. Attention needs to be focused on how and why some programming has begun to move in the right direction and why the rest has not. What this issue needs, more than anything else, is cool heads on all sides of the problem: the network executives, the creative community, the government, researchers and advocacy groups. All sides need to worry less about
Internet CensorshipInternet Censorship Society has always struggled to protect the public from the inappropriate acts of a few people, who impose lower standards of morality on an involuntary basis to the general public. Society has monitored and set controls on mass media such as radio, television, magazines, and movies. However, another mass media has arrived which has virtually uncontrollable worldwide access. The censors are now in a dilemma of how to regulate this new media called the Internet. Radio Stations
CRIME, VIOLENCE, AND THE LAW IN MEDIACRIME, VIOLENCE, AND THE LAW IN MEDIA The national media, and in particular television, is the most powerful source of information we have. The media, more than anything else in today’s world, shapes public perception. Unfortunately, most of what we see, hear, or read is about the chaotic condition of planet earth. Sure, there is plenty of chaos to report on, but by bombarding the public with one horrific report after another, the media acts like a giant amplifier of pain and misery. In many peo