Appeals court tosses FCC fine for nudity on 'NYPD Blue'

TV Watch, a coalition of networks (not including ABC) and advocacy groups that opposes the government's crackdown on indecency, cheered the decision.

“Today’s decision by the court is further evidence that the highest authority on family television viewing is parents and not the government. Eighty-seven percent of parents agree according to our research," said TV Watch Executive Director Jim Dyke.

"Parents already have tools such as the V-Chip and content ratings to help them make decisions based on their own taste, values and style.”

The Parents Television Council, which has been the driving force behind the Commission's push to regulate "fleeting" expletives and nudity on television, told Broadcasting and Cable that the decision was disappointing, if not unexpected.

"I am not sure if it is a surprise [given the Fox decision], but certainly it is disappointing," PTC director of public policy Dan Isett said. "I think it lays bare what we have been saying about the [Fox] fleeting expletive case, which was that what was at stake was not the narrow issue of fleeting profanity but the whole indecency regime."

The Commission's appeal of Fox will likely focus on the Court's decision in FCC v. Pacifica Foundation, which gave the FCC the power to regulate broadcasts during hours children are likely to be watching or listening.

That case concerned a broadcast of comedian George Carlin's famous "Seven Dirty Words" routine, which formed the basis for much of the FCC's enforcement policy during the next decade.

The Pacifica decision also found context is vital to determining when content is indecent, while the FCC's brief claimed the appeals court's decision would force the commission to return to a list of banned words or something similar that ignores context when deeming something profane.