Drug Songs and the Federal Communications Commission

A “public notice” concerning the broadcasting of drug-related popular songs by radio stations issued from the Federal Communications Commission on March 5, 1971. While this notice could be generally taken to prohibit the playing of such songs, its actual message, upon further analysis, is more complex and less direct. This article will examine the notice to ascertain its likely meaning, determine its legal status, and examine three constitutional issues it raises: whether the songs are protected as speech under the first amendment; whether the statement of the prohibition (if that be the import of the notice) is sufficiently precise to avoid due process problem of vagueness; and whether the notice is a kind of prior restraint on freedom of speech and press.