Watchdog Group Fights to Retain Senate Indecency Provision

Oct 8, 2004  •  Post A Comment

In a last-ditch effort to jack up indecency fines, Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., introduced legislation today that would raise the cap on levies for off-color broadcasts from $32,500 to $500,000. As of late last Thursday evening, it appeared that the legislative effort to raise the cap was dead, at least for the year, after lawmakers decided to delete the increases and other media-related provisions from a major Defense Department bill.

The provision, added as an amendment to the Pentagon bill in June, would raise the cap on indecency fines from $32,500 to $275,000, and many legislative insiders had predicted it would survive industry efforts to strip it out. But to the PTC’s dismay, Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., has asked Senate leaders to ax the provision, along with other controversial amendments that would extend indecency prohibitions to violent broadcast and cable programming and stymie Federal Communications Commission to relax its media ownership rules.

“We urgently need your swiftest action,” PTC said in an e-mail alert to its members. “We’ve come too far in our fight to clean up the broadcast airwaves and impose meaningful fines on those who would use those airwaves to poison our children’s minds with smut and vulgarity to give up now. … The vote may comes as quickly as today. Please don’t delay.”

Sen. Ensign, in a Sept. 30 letter to the leaders of the Senate Armed Services Committee, urged that all of the controversial media-related provisions be stripped out of the bill on grounds that they would “add unnecessary contention that will likely slow or disrupt the work” of the legislative conference members assigned to resolve differences between the House and Senate versions of the Pentagon bill.