Martin applauds House approval of Broadcast Decency Enforcement Act

Welcoming the House of Representatives’ passage of the Broadcast Decency Enforcement Act June 7, FCC chairman Kevin Martin said the bill gives the commission “more tools” to let families watch TV and listen to the radio.

The House, which approved the measure by a vote of 375-35, increased the maximum fine the commission can levy for broadcasting material deemed to be indecent to $325,000.

Since the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show incident in which singer Janet Jackson’s breast was revealed to a large national audience, the commission and lawmakers have fielded many complaints from the public about broadcast indecency. The FCC’s Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau released a report late last month showing informal complaints from the public concerning broadcast indecency, obscenity and profanity topped 275,000 in the first quarter of 2006, compared to just more than 44,000 in the last quarter of 2005. (See: “Complaints to FCC over broadcast obscenity, indecency, profanity skyrocket.”)

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

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

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