FCC To Start Issuing Backed Up Indecency Fines

It’s been rumored for a while, but apparently now it’s official — the FCC’s Media Bureau is going to start issuing broadcast indecency fines from 2005. They’ll be done in packages which will each be signed off on by the FCC’s Commissioners, and are supposed to provide a little more guidance on what the FCC considers indecent these days.

It will be interesting to read the commissioners’ reasoning on the fines, though I have my doubts about how instructive they’ll be. The FCC has traditionally resisted giving guidelines on indecency, generally out of a fear that if the Commission draws a line, then shock jocks and tittilating reality shows will know how they can walk right up the line, do a little dance, and then back off. More concrete guidelines would probably also give broadcasters better legal footing for challenging the fines in court. Whereas, these days, those challenges tend to end up with settlement deals being struck, such that a given corporation pays a summary amount and makes certain promises to clean up its act. Clear Channel and Viacom are two broadcasters who took advantage of such deals in the last couple of years.

However, arch-pious-indecency-cop Brent Bozell doesn’t think the deals work out so well. His Parents Television Council filed complaints last year for CBS programs (when it was owned by Viacom) after the deal went through. Of course, Bozell’s army of christian soliders won’t be happy until the Simpsons are replaced with Davey and Goliath and the 700 Club replaces Jerry Springer.



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