In 1978, the Supreme Court ruled in FCC v. Pacifica that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) had the power to police public broadcast radio and television programming during times when children typically watch and listen to radio and television (6:00 AM and 10:00 PM). This week, the Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments over whether the FCC should still have a role in regulating the public airwaves or whether its indecency regulations violate guarantees of free speech. Broadcasters say the FCC policy is unconstitutionally vague and violates free-speech rights. Specifically, Fox Television Station is requesting the Supreme Court abandon a rule that allows more government regulation of broadcast, compared with cable, because of the scarcity of the airwaves and the pervasiveness of broadcast TV and radio. Proponents of the regulation, however, argue that broadcasters utilize public airwaves that the government is entitled to regulate in order to prevent the proliferation of indecency during traditional family viewing hours.
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