House OKs bill to hike broadcast indecency fine

The House of Representatives approved a bill Wednesday that increases the size of the maximum fine the FCC can impose for broadcasting material deemed to be indecent to $325,000.

The Broadcast Decency Enforcement Act, which passed by a vote of 375-35, is seen in part as the culmination of an effort begun in response tothe 2004 Super Bowl half-time show incident in which singer Janet Jackson’s breast was revealed.

Both the FCC and Congress were inundated with complaints from the public following the incident, prompting the commission to fine CBS and its owned and operated stations $550,000. (See “FCC denies CBS request to reconsider indecency fine.”)

The FCC has received a sizeable increase in informal complaints from the public over broadcast indecency, obscenity and profanity. (See “Complaints to FCC over broadcast obscenity, indecency, profanity skyrocket.”)

Last month, the Senate approved its version of the bill. President George W. Bush is expected to sign the bill into law next week, according to Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), a chief sponsor of the House bill.

Upton, chairman of the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet, first introduced legislation to increase the fines for indecency tenfold in January 2004.

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