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FCC Recommends ‘Highest Ever’ Indecency Fine for Clear Channel: $755,000

FCC Recommends 'Highest Ever' Indecency Fine for Clear Channel: $755,000

As Congress sharpens its focus on broadcast indecency, the FCC proposed a $755,000 fine for several Clear Channel Communications stations for apparently airing indecent material over several days. The material at issue was aired in connection with the “Bubba the Love Sponge” program. The commission proposed the statutory maximum forfeiture of $27,500 for each of 26 apparent indecency violations. The FCC called the amount “the highest ever” proposed against a broadcast licensee.
The Florida stations involved are: WPLA(FM), Callahan, WCKT(FM), Port Charlotte, WXTB(FM), Clearwater and WRLX(FM), West Palm Beach.
The commission found 26 apparent indecency violations that it said involved graphic and explicit sexual and/or excretory material, and were designed to pander to, titillate and shock listeners. The Commission proposed the maximum because of what it termed “Clear Channel’s history of transgressions” regarding broadcast indecency.
The proposed forfeiture also includes $40,000 for Clear Channel’s apparent failure to maintain certain required documents in the public inspection files of these stations.
FCC chairman Michael Powell said the penalty was a strong example of the agency’s commitment to enforcing the broadcast indecency rules.
Commissioner Michael Copps dissented from his colleagues, saying the involved stations should have been slated for a license revocation hearing.
Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., chairman of the House telecommunications subcommittee, chairs a hearing on broadcast indecency Wednesday. He’s introduced a measure to significantly raise the fines for broadcast indecency violations.