While you may not be able to say the "F-word" on broadcast TV, you can on cable TV. And apparently they will – as the Court of Appeals has agreed to televise the oral arguments on the appeals of the FCC fines levied against Fox for broadcast of the Billboard Music Awards and NBC for its airing of the Golden Globes. Both of these fines arose because the broadcasts featured one of those words that you’re not supposed to say on TV. The Court granted permission for C-Span to broadcast next week’s oral arguments in these cases.
However, broadcast TV seems, so far, unwilling to take the risk. According to a Broadcasting and Cable report, no broadcast network has asked C-Span for the rights to rebroadcast their coverage. Perhaps, until these decisions are released, the broadcasters fear that a Court of Appeals oral argument will somehow be mistaken by the FCC for something that "describes or depicts sexual or excretory functions." As one who has participated in Court of Appeals arguments, that mistake would seem highly unlikely, but the FCC’s policy seems to fine first and ask questions later. So, with the concern of FCC action restraining the broadcast networks, the 15% of the country without access to cable or satellite television in their homes will be safe from exposure to this potentially profane court argument.