Thursday, June 08, 2006

House OKs new FCC indecency fines? WE Remember "Andy Griffith," "Leave IT to Beaver" and "Father Knows Best" But Does Our Society Today ?

The 379-35 House vote on the Broadcast Decency Enforcement Act [sends the clear message that] Congress gave notice to broadcasters Wednesday.

The National Association of Broadcasters said it would prefer to see the nation’s 13,000 radio stations and 1,700 TV stations police themselves. “The NAB position is that we think responsible self-regulation is preferable to government regulation in areas of program content,” spokesman Dennis Wharton said.

Since the 2004 Super Bowl incident, many broadcasters have voluntarily policed their broadcasts through means such as five-second delays on live broadcasts.

The legislation coming out of the Senate does not go as far as a bill sponsored by Upton that the House passed last year. That measure would have increased the maximum fine to $500,000, allowed fines for individual performers and given the FCC the authority to revoke the licenses of broadcasters fined three or more times.

The FCC has also actively responded to the increase in complaints about lewd material over the airwaves, with total fines jumping from $440,000 in 2003 to almost $8 million in 2004.

The agency recently handed down its biggest fine, $3.3 million, against more than 100 CBS affiliates that aired an episode of the series “Without a Trace” that simulated an orgy scene. That fine is now under review.

The FCC recently denied a petition of reconsideration from CBS Corp.-owned stations facing $550,000 in fines over the Janet Jackson breast-revealing incident at the 2004 Super Bowl.

Under FCC rules and federal law, radio stations and over-the-air television channels may not air obscene material at any time, and may not air indecent material between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. when children are more likely to be in the audience.

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