House Panel Passes Indecency Measure

Feb 9, 2005  •  Post A Comment

The House Energy and Commerce Committee voted 46-2 Wednesday afternoon to approve legislation that would raise the cap on broadcast indecency fines from $32,500 to $500,000. The legislation, which mirrors a bill that was approved by the House in a 391-22 vote last year, also makes clear that on-air talent and performers would be subject to fines, not just station licensees.

In addition, the measure includes a three-strikes-and-you’re-out provision that puts the broadcast licenses of stations with three indecency violations in jeopardy. Another provision in the bill requires the Federal Communications Commission to act on indecency complaints within 180 days.

“For those broadcasters who continue to act irresponsibly, the FCC needs adequate authority to enforce the law, and this bill would deliver that,” said Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., who has been leading the indecency charge in the House.

The two lawmakers who opposed the bill-Reps. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., and Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill.-raised concerns that the bill is a slap at First Amendment values. But Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, said he believes the bill will be enacted into law this year.

Legislation that would raise the indecency fine cap to $325,000 has been introduced in the Senate. Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, told reporters Wednesday morning that the Senate measure will “go through [the Senate] as fast as we can get it done.”