Broadcast and Internet Indecency: Defining Free Speech

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Indecency—arguably among the most provocative and incendiary issues in today's media—is speech at the edge of social tolerance. This timely volume examines broadcast and Internet indecency from legal and social perspectives, utilizing current cases and well-publicized examples. In exploring the issues associated with this highly controversial area, author Jeremy Harris Lipschultz makes headway toward an understanding of how indecency, as communication on the fringes of social norms, functions in defining free expression through specific types of speech. He contrasts conceptualizations of indecency and obscenity, synthesizes case law and social research, and develops theoretical generalizations for future research and study. His work provides a comprehensive examination of broadcast and Internet indecency issues and cases that serve to test generalizations about freedom of expression and one's ability to define free speech.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Broadcast and Internet indecency are fascinating areas of research. The issue of whether offensive speech that isn't legally obscene should be regulated has captured the interest of numerous legal scholars since the 1970s. In this book, Jeremy Lipschultz explores indecency from legal, social and theoretical perspectives. This alone makes this work an important contribution to the discourse of freedom of speech, especially "offensive" speech.

Those of us who have studied the regulation of indecency know that this subject can become clouded by self-righteousness and politics. I welcome Jeremy Lipschultz's effort to bring such a broad range of approaches into the study of indecency regulation. He certainly has done a great deal of work in this area and this book allows him to put it all together into a coherent and meaningful whole."

Milagros Rivera Sanchez
Chair, Communications and New Media Program
National University of Singapore

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780805859102
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 12/14/2007
  • Series: Routledge Communication Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 424
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Jeremy Lipschultz (Ph.D., Southern Illinois University) is the Reilly Professor and Interim Director, School of Communication, University of Nebraska at Omaha. He has written several books on related topics (Broadcast Indecency: F.C.C. Regulation and the First Amendent (Focal Press, 1997) and Free Expression in the Age of the Internet: Social and Legal Boundaries (Westview Press, 2000). He writes the New Communications Technology chapter each year for Wat Hopkins' textbook Communication and the Law (Vision Press, 2005). Lipschultz is co-author of Crime and Local TV News: Dramatic, Breaking and Live from the Scene (LEA, 2002), and Mass Media, an Aging Population and the Baby Boomers (forthcoming). He has written numberous scholarly articles in refereed publications such as Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, Journalism & Mass Communication Educator, Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, Educational Gerontology, Journal of Social Behavior and Personality, Journal of Radio Studies, Newpaper Research Journal, Studies in Media & Information Literacy.

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Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Broadcast & Internet Indecency: Defining Free Speech

Chapter I. Introduction to Broadcast and Internet Indecency

The Engaging Questions

Stern Helps Define the Issues

Social and Legal Issues

Miller v. California

Broadcasting, Cable and the Internet

Safe Harbor Issues

To Regulate or Not

Indecency and Obscenity

Chapter Summary

Review Questions

Chapter II. History of American Broadcasting

Historical Context of Broadcast Regulation

Ship-to-Shore Communications and Interference Chaos


Red Lion

Public Interest, Convenience and Necessity

Newton Minnow Calls Television in 1961 a ÒVast WastelandÓ

The Highpoint of Regulation

Deregulation, FCC Policy Statements and Congressional Responses

Data and Processes

Parental Control or Government Control

TV Watch Study Finds Opposition to Current FCC Regulation

Chapter Summary

Review Questions

Chapter III. Theory and Research in Broadcast and Internet Indecency

Normative First Amendment Theories

Douglas’ Near-absolutist View

Strict Scrutiny

Theories of FCC and FTC Regulation

Legal Analyses

Carlin Monologue as Transcribed by Pacifica Court

Social and Psychological Research

Social Theory and Computer-Mediated Communication

Chapter Summary

Review Questions

Chapter IV. Adult Entertainment

The Pornography Business

Girls Gone Wild Video Producer Guilt of Exploiting Children

Media Law on Pornography

Zoning and the Law

Pay Cable Channels

Satellite Radio and Television

X-rated Moviews

Chapter Summary

Review Questions

Chapter V. The Legacy of Pacifica and the Action for Children’s Television Cases

A Single Complaint

Political Implications of the Indecency Ban

FCC Order and the Diaz Statement

Dial-a-Porn: Sabe Communications

Decision and Reasoning




Interpretations of the Opinion

Political Generalizations


Political Implications

Politics of Broadcast Regulation

Chapter Summary

Review Questions

Chapter VI. Cable Television, New Technologies and New Definitions

First Amendment Rights

The First Amendment and Cyberspace

Non-broadcast Video Options

Appendix to the Opinion of the Court

Satellite Issues

Digital Television

The Internet

Indecency, Obscenity and the New Media World

Chapter Summary

Review Questions

Chapter VII. New Media Issues

Cultural Concerns about Indecency

Computer-Mediated Communication

Mancow Thrives in Post-indecency Complaint Career

Other Internet Issues: YouTube

Fox Shows F-word During Playoff Game

Libel, Privacy and Copyright

Chapter Summary

Review Questions

Chapter VIII. The Fight Over Indecent Content

Indecent Content and the FCC

The Special Case of the Super Bowl

Explicit Podcasting

Chapter Summary

Review Questions

Chapter IX. Political and Religious Issues

The Politics of Regulation

Religious Concerns

Religion, Washington and Indecency

Congressman Fred Upton Seeks to Have Broadcasters Think Twice

NBC Show Las Vegas Draws AFA Complaints

Impact of a Crackdown

A Market for Religion

Faith in a Box Study

Chapter Summary

Review Questions

Chapter X. Trends: Fines, Enforcement, Laws and Regulation

FCC Tells the Public About Indecency Regulation

Regulation of Obscenity, Indecency and Profanity

Frequently Asked Questions

How to File a Complaint

FCC Lawyer Challenged by Second Circuit Court of Appeals Panel

Raising the Broadcast Fines

Internet Freedoms

SNL Censored Skit Plays on YouTube


Implications for Defining Free Expression

Chapter Summary

Review Questions


Appendix A

Appendix B

Appendix C

Appendix D

Appendix E

Appendix F

Author Index

Subject Index

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