House Republicans: Supremes Decision Argues for FCC Reforms

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The chairs of the House Energy & Commerce Committee, Fred Upton (R-Mich.), and Communications Subcommittee, Greg Walden (R-Ore.), used the Supreme Court's decision on indecency regs Thursday to make a pitch for passage of their Federal Communications Commission reform legislation, which passed the House but is not likely to pass the Democrat-controlled Senate.

"It has long been a priority of ours to protect family values, which is why we have fought to ensure that the rules on the books are properly enforced," said Walden, a former broadcaster himself, in a statement. "The Supreme Court ruled today that the FCC's indecency regulations were too vague at the time of the 2002 and 2003 Billboard Awards and NYPD Blue incidents to give Fox and ABC fair notice of the applicable standards. This highlights once again the need for the FCC to conduct its business through a more transparent and orderly process, allowing for better input and decision-making. How much longer can we allow bad process to produce bad results? The time is now for reform, such as those included in the FCC Reform Act."

Walden and Upton both cautioned broadcasters to program to their audiences, something broadcasters argue they have been doing all along. "[T]oday's ruling reinforces the responsibility of broadcasters to represent their communities," said Walden. "Most of them know and do the right thing, and we urge them to continue to listen to the public and uphold appropriate community standards that protect families and children."

"Although the decision focused on the FCC's failure to provide due process," said Upton, "the larger underlying issue remains: The importance of protecting both our Constitution and our families and communities. I would remind executives in New York and Hollywood that they should act responsibly when it comes to the entertainment they are sending, via the public's airwaves, into family rooms across the country."