The Supreme Court decided Thursday that broadcasters should not be fined for unexpected indecency on their programs that violates Federal Communications Commission policy.
ABC and 45 affiliates faced nearly $1.24 million in FCC fines because of the rule that requires certain language and other adult content to be censored.
The justices said that broadcasters could not have known in advance that profanity at an awards show and brief nudity during an episode of ABC's "NYPD Blue" would lead to penalties.
Broadcasters argued that the revolution in technology with programming now on cable, Internet, and satellite makes the old FCC rules for broadcasting stations obsolete.
Still, the Supreme Court did not rule on the constitutionality of the FCC's indecency policy and only issued this broad ruling.
The case arose from a change in the FCC's long-standing policy on profanity.
Tim Winter, president of the Parents Television Council, saw the ruling as a "green light" for the FCC to rule against broadcasters in pending complaints of indecent material that aired after the FCC explained its new policy.