Friday, February 24, 2006

FCC Affirms Broadcast Indecency Fines


The Federal Communications Communication (FCC) will apparently stick by its decision to fine CBS $550,000 for singer Janet Jackson's infamous "wardrobe malfunction" during the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show.

"We're very pleased with this development," said Daniel Weiss, senior analyst for media and sexuality at Focus on the Family Action. "The FCC didn't issue a single citation in all of 2005, so we've been kind of wondering what's up. Now it looks like they intended to move all along – and are moving."

The nation's broadcasting watchdog also reportedly plans to announce actions soon against Fox, NBC and CBS TV stations and affiliates for violating decency standards.

"It appears that they're going to be issuing a whole new round of citations," he added. "They're going to be fining a number of stations, although the news reports say that not all of the citations will include fines."

Weiss said FCC Chairman Kevin Martin may be trying to establish an indecency standard for the networks.

"The FCC has been very sporadic and, frankly, inconsistent in its enforcement, so broadcasters have claimed they don't know where the indecency line is," he said. "Martin could be establishing that line for them, with the intention of adding fines if there are further violations."

According to published reports, one of the decisions involves Nicole Richie's use of two expletives during an appearance on the 2003 Billboard Music Awards, carried by Fox.

Weiss, by the way, said the fine against CBS was the maximum that can be imposed on a broadcaster for violation of indecency standards. The network, however, made that money back in just seven seconds during the 2005 Super Bowl. Each 30-second ad brought the network $2.4 million last year.

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