Quiz 44: Administrative Law
This question is tricky as it requires a subjective opinion. The Federal Communications Commission has the power to draw these lines. As outlined in the case, they cannot depart from its previous rules without a reasoned explanation. With a changing society, things that were once deemed inappropriate for a mass audience can be redefined. For instance, early in television's history, seeing a married couple sharing a bed, no matter how platonic, was considered inappropriate. Now, that standard has changed. Thus, the present day situation of children being exposed to more indecent language does not necessarily mean the FCC should be more stringent.
When evaluating agency rules, courts use a "arbitrary and capricious" standard. These include the following aspects: whether the agency failed to give a rational explanation for the rule if the agency changed a previous rule without justifying it if the agency used legally inappropriate factors when making the rule if the rule was made contrary to evidence. Furthermore, the agency must give notice of the proposed rules and make it available to the public. Following notice, the agency must give people time to comment on the rule (i.e. more than 30 days). The agency must then review the comments and publish the final rule for the public. If the following procedure has been followed, then the rule will probably be found valid.
The "bleeping out" technological advance has made it easier for television networks to police themselves. Because television stations can be fined for breaking the guidelines set by the FCC, it is in their best interest to maximize on the bleeping out system and police themselves. Thus, the FCC should have to do less regulation.