Despite pleadings from several members of Congress that the proposed broadcast indecency bill being considered would violate free speech rights, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved an election-year broadcast indecency bill that could impose fines of up to $500,000 for broadcasters that air "indecent" material.
The bill passed 391-22 and gives the federal government the option of revoking a broadcasters' license if it committed three indecency violations. In addition, the FCC would be required to address indecency complaints within 180 days.
The Senate, which is considering its own bill currently in committee, could approve its own version or adopt the House version.
And while FCC Chairman Michael Powell has agreed with lawmakers that the airing of "indecent" material is a problem, he said this week that he's worried about weighing down the measures to resolve the issue to the point where they become unmovable. According to Reuters, Powell told reporters this week that, "There are a number of things that give me pause. Things like three strikes and you're out, I think is an understandable idea, but when you think it through, I can imagine scenarios where it can be more problematic than not."
The chairman also expressed concern about a provision in the Senate measure to study a possible link between media consolidation and indecency, and delay implementation of the FCC's new ownership rules pending completion of that review.
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