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MTSU Prof. Weighs in on Supreme Court Obscenity Ruling

WASHINGTON (AP/WMOT) — A Middle Tennessee professor who specializes in free-speech issues says television stations will likely be minding their manners for a while as a result of a Supreme Court ruling on indecency.

The justices yesterday threw out fines and other penalties against Fox and ABC stations that violated the FCC's policy regulating curse words and nudity on TV.

The case revolved around obscenities uttered during an awards show on Fox, and brief nudity on ABC. The justices said the FCC is free to revise its indecency policy.

Middle Tennessee State Professor of Journalism Larry Burriss says stations will likely err on the side of caution until the FCC provides new guidance.

“What you don’t want to do, is give the Commission grounds to fine you, or to levy some sort of sanction against you. So I think stations may back off a little bit, and be able to say to the Court and to FCC, ‘Look, we’re behaving ourselves,’ and kinda] of let things settle out for a while.”

Dr. Burriss says the Supreme Court will likely be asked repeatedly to revisit the issue until they provide a more definitive ruling.