That clapping you just heard was likely Howard Stern, one of the most heavily fined radio personalities in the history of broadcasting. These day's Howard has little to worry about when it comes to FCC decency standards because he broadcasts his show uncensored on Sirius XM's subscription based satellite radio. That was not always the case though. During his terrestrial radio days Howard had to suffer through engineers with censor buttons to beep out even the most innocuous references, god forbid they offend some lonely retired person with nothing better to do than report every time Howard uttered a questionable word.
The court has now spoken, and even though Howard no longer lives under those rules, he most certainly gave a victorious fist pump upon hearing that the FCC has taken one on the chin. Especially considering the manner in which it happened. Howard was always quick to point out that Oprah of Dr. Phil could say certain words without fear of punishment, but if he said them, even in the same context, the FCC would be all over him. It was a constant frustration for the King Of All Media.
In 2009 The U.S. Supreme Court had ruled that the FCC had the authority to regulate profanity. However, The Supreme Court referred back to the Second Circuit Court the issue of whether or not the FCC's policy violated First Amendment guarantees of free speech. On Tuesday, July 12, 2010, the court issued their opinion.
"We now hold that the FCC's policy violates the First Amendment because it is unconstitutionally vague, creating a chilling effect that goes far beyond the fleeting expletives at issue here"
If you are a fan of media you should be applauding this decision. While certain standards may indeed be a good thing, they need to be spelled out in such a way that allows them to be applied fairly across the board. Stern was a victim of his reputation, and the FCC clearly held him to a different standard than anyone else. It was the vagueness of the FCC regulations that allowed the commission the latitude to offer some preferential treatment, while bird-dogging others.
Howard Stern's current contract with Sirius XM expires in less than six months.
Position - Long Sirius XM Radio