Brownback Tackles ‘Fleeting Indecency’ Rule

Jul 10, 2007  •  Post A Comment

U.S. Senator and GOP presidential candidate Sam Brownback is aiming to overturn an appellate court decision that threw out the Federal Communications Commission’s “fleeting indecency” enforcement policy. He also wants to give the agency new power to limit violent programming.
The Kansas Republican said Tuesday that he would try to add the changes to a funding bill for government agencies slated for Senate Appropriations Committee consideration Thursday.
On June 4, a divided 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the FCC’s ruling that the Fox Television Network’s airing of profanities by Cher and Nicole Richie during the 2002 and 2003 Billboard Music Awards amounted to indecency. The court also questioned the FCC’s decision that Bono’s words uttered during NBC’s telecast of the 2003 Golden Globe Awards constituted indecency.
Another appellate court in September is to hear a challenge to the FCC’s fine of CBS stations in the wake of 2004’s Janet Jackson Super Bowl incident.
The appellate court decision was seen as a major win for broadcasters, but that victory could be taken away by Sen. Brownback’s proposed amendment.
Some attorneys said at the time of the decision that the First Amendment concerns raised by the court could stand in the way of any challenge to the court’s ruling.
Sen. Brownback and Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., have been calling for the FCC to step up regulation of “excessively violent” TV content.
Sen. Brownback said he would offer two measures.
One would give the FCC the authority to continue to levy fines for “fleeting expletives.” A second amendment would let the FCC fine broadcasters for airing “excessively violent content” when children are most likely to be watching.
Copies of the amendments weren’t immediately available. Aides didn’t return calls seeking to determine how the amendments defined “excessively violent content” or hours “when children are most likely in the audience.”
In a statement, Sen. Brownback declared, “Parents should not have such a difficult time protecting their children from broadcast television. The FCC’s ability to restrict the gratuitous use of obscene, violent and indecent content on broadcast television is essential to the protection of children and families.
“Broadcasters should not be allowed to use the public airways to disseminate violent or obscene material,” he added. “The abundance of indecent material on television is one indication of the coarsening of our culture.”
(Editor: Horowitz)


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