US Senate approves raising fines against indecent programming
Jesse J Holland | June 21, 2004
WASHINGTON — Disgusted by racy language, explicit scenes and skin-baring
outfits, the Senate overwhelmingly agreed on Tuesday to fine U.S.
radio and television broadcasters and show business personalities
as much as $3 million a day for airing indecent entertainment.
Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake during the half-time show of Super Bowl XXXVIII February 2004 |
Photo - AFP
Faced with public uproar stoked by Janet Jackson and Justin
Timberlake's "wardrobe malfunction" at this year's Super Bowl
football game, the Senate rushed the bill through on a 99-1 vote
without floor debate.
Republican Sen. Sam Brownback said the issue has been debated
enough. Lawmakers have continually criticized broadcasters for
airing what they say is increasingly coarse programming that can be
seen or heard by children.
"People are tired of this indecent material on over-the-air
public broadcast, particularly during prime time when people's
families are watching," said Brownback, the bill's sponsor. "We're
going to have to take action because the broadcasters won't police
Under the measure, the maximum fine for both broadcasters and
entertainers would increase to up to $275,000 per indecent
incident, up from $27,500 for license holders and $11,000 for
personalities. The fines would keep increasing for each incident
until a maximum fine of $3 million a day is reached.
The House of Representatives passed a similar bill that would
set fines at $500,000. Differences between the two bills must be
The Senate moved the measure without debate as part of the
massive defense bill expected to be approved later this week.
Federal law and FCC rules prohibit over-the-air radio and
television stations from airing offensive material that refers to
sexual and excretory functions between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m., hours
when children are more likely to be tuned in. No such restrictions
exist for cable and satellite TV or satellite radio.
The FCC currently has no power to regulate those channels, which
are available through subscription to the 85 percent of the 108.4
million U.S. households with televisions.
Introduced in January, after FCC Chairman Michael Powell
demanded higher fines, the bill wound up on a fast track to passage
after the Feb. 1 Super Bowl halftime show that ended with
Timberlake partially exposing Jackson's breast for an instant to 90
million viewers. – Sapa-AP
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