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Indecency gives way to spring break

The U.S. Senate has delayed action on the broadcast indecency legislation until at least after its spring break. Majority leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) had wanted the vote last week but key Democrats objected to a rushed vote on the controversial legislation that would impose stiff fines for certain broadcast content.

The U.S. House of Representatives, already on a two-week break, approved the legislation earlier. The House bill would give the FCC the authority to fine broadcasters as much as $500,000 per violation and apply such large penalties against those on-air personalities who willfully violate the rules.

The Senate, however, may be caught up in a legislative gridlock that some fear could extend until after the November elections.

Both Republicans and Democrats blame each other for causing the legislative snarl by refusing to allow votes on measures they don’t like but that have broad support in both chambers. Others cite growing friction between President Bush and members of Congress of both parties for the inaction.

In the meantime, the FCC proposed $495,000 in indecency fines against Clear Channel Communications for radio broadcasts by Howard Stern, prompting the nation’s largest radio chain to drop the country’s best-known shock jock.

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