D.C. appeals court to hear indecency case

The full 10-member U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has agreed to consider whether laws against “indecent” broadcast and cable programming are constitutional.

Last November, a three-judge panel from the D.C. appeals court unanimously struck down Federal Communications Commission rules that channeled indecent radio and TV programming to the hours of midnight through 6 a.m.

The court also overturned an amendment offered by Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) to the 1992 Cable Act allowing cablers to bar sexually explicit programming on public access channels.

The three-judge panel — considered one of the most liberal in the country — overturned the indecency laws on grounds that they went too far in abridging the First Amendment rights of parents.

The FCC responded to the decision by seeking a full “en banc” hearing of the case by all 10 judges. Should the earlier decision be upheld by the full court, it’s expected the FCC will appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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