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11.29.2004
Originally featured on BroadcastEngineering.com
Viacom, FCC reach $3.5 million agreement

Viacom will pay $3.5 million to settle dozens of federal investigations into alleged indecency on its TV and radio stations. The deal did not include the recent controversy with Janet Jackson at the last Super Bowl and the $550,000 fine imposed by the FCC. CBS has vowed not to pay those fines.

The settlement closes investigations dating back to 2001. One involved shock jock Howard Stern, and two focused on radio personalities Opie and Anthony, who lost their Viacom-owned New York radio show after it featured a couple purporting to have sex inside St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

Viacom, which also owns CBS and MTV, agreed to implement a company-wide compliance plan aimed at preventing future federal indecency statute violations. The plan includes installation of audio delay equipment at radio stations that broadcast live programming and training broadcasters and employees about indecency laws.

Viacom said the public, not the government, should decide what it is exposed to on radio and television.

The agreement cancels investigations into about 50 radio and television shows, Richard Diamond, an FCC spokesman, told Associated Press. Viacom-owned stations broadcast the shows across the country.

Infinity Broadcasting paid fines totaling $1.7 million in 1995 to settle FCC violations by Stern.

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