Is CBS Radio a “a serial and recidivist violator of the federal criminal statute proscribing indecent, obscene or profane broadcasts”?
That was the pitch made by several opponents who asked the FCC to deny license renewal to CBS station WWFS(FM) in New York. But the FCC has rejected their request.
The arguments were made by the Rev. Giacomo Capoverdi, Nick Carlucci, Grace Vertullo and TFP Student Action. They cited earlier broadcasts by Howard Stern, the St. Patrick’s Cathedral on-air activities of “Opie & Anthony” in 2002 and other sexually themed promotions by Opie and Anthony.
CBS said the incidents either didn’t occur over WWFS or were settled in the Viacom consent decree with the commission.
The objectors, however, said the consent decree should be null and void because it deprived them of review of CBS’s entire record during the station’s license term and because it was not authorized by Congress. They also argued that the FCC’s “broadcast enforcement scheme” appears to be racially discriminatory because African-American broadcasters in other cases — Willis Broadcasting and Family Broadcasting — were not allowed to reach consent decrees or did so on less favorable terms.
The commission ruled this week that it can’t consider incidents that occurred at other stations or prior to the current license term; nor could it consider an earlier fine against WWFS that was later rescinded by the consent decree; and it rejected the other objections.
“We further find no merit in Petitioners’ contentions regarding the alleged unlawfulness of the Viacom Consent Decree,” wrote Peter Doyle, chief of the Audio Division of the Media Bureau, saying the FCC has considered similar arguments made by others and rejected them.
He also rejected contentions that the FCC’s enforcement scheme was discriminatory. “Neither of the two cases cited … as evidence of racial discrimination involves allegations of indecency or fact situations similar to that presented here.”