The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the ruling that stations can be fined for 'fleeting expletives' aired prior to 10 pm. The justices indicated their decision was based on their belief that the FCC did not violate policy when changing the rule on expletives back in 2004. They state that the First Amendment is not the issue at hand. The Wall Street Journal covered the story http://tinyurl.com/c9xkoq.
I say, not only is the First Amendment the issue at hand, but several cultural communication issues are also at hand. Of course, I am not speaking from the technical perspective of the court, but from a broader perspective. The First Amendment is only the tip of the iceberg. But, that tip is important when the government is fining stations for unintentional outburst of swear words in live broadcasts. Never mind that the individual who makes the outburst has any responsibility or, for that matter, rights about what they say in public.
Culturally, American television is way more constricting than in other countries where breast are bared and expletives made without the fear of being fined. As the world becomes closer through communication, I hope America can adopt a more open point of view.
Another cultural difference is the expectation that the government has any role in controlling the television viewing of children. Why parents would ever want to abdicate that role to the government is beyond me. I like the FCC chairperson nominee's perspective much better.
"Mr. Genachowski and other advisers spoke far less about policing the airwaves than extolling the virtues of how technology can help parents monitor their children's viewing habits."