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FCC Finds Infinity Station’s Indecency ‘Egregious’

FCC Finds Infinity Station's Indecency 'Egregious'

In a case that stirred debate among the commissioners over how to penalize indecency on radio, the FCC said it intends to fine Infinity $27,500 for material that aired on WKRK(FM) in Detroit in January 2002 on the “Deminski & Doyle Show.”
One commissioner voted against the penalty, saying it was too weak (see following story).
The Notice of Apparent Liability is “based on Infinity’s apparent willful violation of statutory and regulatory provisions restricting the broadcast of indecent material during the hours of 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.”
The commission had investigated a complaint concerning material in which station personnel invited listeners to call in to discuss sexual practices and techniques.
“Specifically, the commission found that the broadcast included explicit and graphic sexual and excretory references during separate discussions with nine individuals,” it said in its announcement. “In addition, the commission found that this material was extremely lewd and vulgar, and that it appeared to have been used to pander, titillate and shock.”
The language of the FCC announcement itself was strong. It said it had chosen a penalty higher than the base amount of $7,000 because of “the egregious nature of the violation.”
Notably, the commission also said additional serious violations by Infinity may lead to a revocation proceeding. It said it “would not hesitate” to adopt strong enforcement actions in the future, including possible license revocation.
Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein wrote said the FCC “has now given fair notice that it can and will avail itself of a range of enforcement sanctions, including the initiation of revocation proceedings.”
The FCC also said it could have considered this incident as multiple violations because there were several distinct conversations involved. It treated the incident as one violation but said that in the future, similar material within a single program may be treated as multiple, repeated cases, which would therefore accrue higher fines.
Infinity had argued that the FCC’s generic definition of indecency is unconstitutional and the group did not dispute that the material itself was indecent, the commission said.
Infinity spokesman Dana McClintock, asked for comment by Radio World, said, “We’ve seen the notice of apparent liability, we’re being offered an opportunity to respond and we intend to do so.”