Broadcasters Sue FCC

They don't like these decency standards.
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The TV networks are challenging recent Federal Communications Commission rulings regarding indecency.

Late last week the four major broadcast networks along with TV station group

Hearst-Argyle

(HTV)

filed lawsuits aimed at challenging last month's rulings. The FCC can fine TV station license holders and potentially withhold the permits when they come up for renewal.

"We strongly believe that the FCC rulings issued on March 15 that we are appealing today are unconstitutional and inconsistent with two decades of previous FCC decisions," the plaintiffs said. "In filing these court appeals we are seeking to overturn the FCC decisions that the broadcast of fleeting, isolated -- and in some cases unintentional -- words rendered these programs indecent."

Disney's

(DIS) - Get Report

ABC,

GE's

(GE) - Get Report

NBC Universal,

News Corp.'s

(NWS) - Get Report

Fox are all party to the action, as is

CBS

(CBS) - Get Report

. CBS stations and affiliates are facing millions of dollars in fines related to indecency incidents.

A record-setting $3.6 million fine is being levied against CBS stations related to an elaborate orgy scene involving minors in an episode of the crime drama

Without a Trace

.

While TV broadcasters are subject to FCC whims, cable and satellite competitors are not regulated, which some broadcasters say gives their competitors an unfair programming advantage.

"The FCC overstepped its authority in an attempt to regulate content protected by the First Amendment, acted arbitrarily and failed to provide broadcasters with a clear and consistent standard for determining what content the government intends to penalize," the broadcasters said.

They also feel the FCC rulings underscore the inherent problem in growing government control over what viewers should and shouldn't see on television and noted that parents currently have the ability to control and block programming they deem inappropriate through various technologies including the V-chip.