What the [Expletive Deleted] is a Broadcaster to Do? The Conflict Between Political Access Rules and the Broadcast Indecency Prohibition

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This article explains and provides the background of the statutes and cases regulating broadcasters, political speech, and indecency, including the 1996 Becker case dealing with the conflict between FCC regulations, a broadcasteru2019s obligation to protect children from objectionable material, and a political candidateu2019s right to free speech. The article analyzes the conflicting statutory regime regulating broadcast political speech and prohibiting indecency, and how the D.C. Circuit interpreted the statutes in Becker. Finally, the article presents potential legislative and judicial resolutions to this statutory conflict, and concludes that statutory immunity for broadcasting political indecency best resolves the conflicting interests of protecting children from offensive material and protecting political speech, a hallmark of our democracy. Specifically, this article argues that broadcast political speech should be immune from any form of censorship and criminal penalties because the value that unqualified free political speech provides our democracy outweighs the regulatorsu2019 desire to protect children from objectionable content.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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