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04.26.2004
Originally featured on BroadcastEngineering.com
Powell to NAB: You don’t want us to define indecency

FCC Chairman Michael Powell, caught in a storm of controversy over indecency issues, suggested that broadcasters be careful what they wish for when they ask the government to define exactly what is indecent.

Viacom’s Mel Karmazin has demanded that the FCC specify exactly what it means by indecent speech, arguing that the current rules are too vague and impossible to follow.

“You don’t want the government to write a red book of what the government says you can and cannot say,” he said during an interview at NAB2004 last week. “The indecency provision is the same one that has been around for decades. I cannot tell someone here what the five things are that you cannot say.”

Powell said that decisions on indecency cases make him “uncomfortable” but that he has a duty to enforce the law. He also denied that FCC actions against popular performers such are Howard Stern are politically motivated.

It increasingly appears the indecency issue it headed to court.

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