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Appeals Court Tosses 'NYPD Blue' Nudity Fine

Charlotte Ross

Score a major victory for Hollywood in the indecency wars. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York today tossed a $1.4 million FCC fine on ABC and selected affiliates for airing a 2003 episode of NYPD Blue that showed actress Charlotte Ross’ rear end.

Today’s decision comes on the heels of a July three-judge panel from the Second Circuit in the so-called “fleeting expletives” case that the FCC's enforcement of its indecency rules is “unconstitutionally vague and chilling.”

The court, applying its July ruling dealing with unbleeped swear words uttered by Cher and Nicole Richie on Fox awards shows, threw out the fine on the same grounds.

“Although this case involved scripted nudity, the case turns on an application of the same content-based indecency test that [the Fox case] found 'impermissibly vague,’" the court held.

As you might imagine, the Parents Television Council watchdog group is not  pleased.

“This ruling is as devoid of common sense as it was predictable,” the PTC says in a statement. “The Second Circuit’s three-judge panel has stated that it doesn’t like the concept of broadcast decency. The court is clearly on a quest to do everything in its power to impede the law – even if the judges’ rationale today conflicts with their prior reasoning for overturning FCC sanctions. It is unfortunate that the industry’s blatant forum-shopping effort is being rewarded with such outlandish decisions.

On the other side, a group called TV Watch, which opposes government control of TV programming, issues its own statement:

“Today’s decision by the court is further evidence that the highest authority on family television viewing is parents and not the government.  Eighty-seven percent of parents agree according to our research. Parents already have tools such as the V-Chip and content ratings to help them make decisions based on their own taste, values and style.  We will continue to educate parents about such resources.”