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Powell to Broadcasters: Create New Code, Don’t Ask Us to Clarify Indecency

Powell to Broadcasters: Create New Code, Don't Ask Us to Clarify Indecency

FCC Chairman Michael Powell “strongly encouraged” broadcasters attending NAB’s programming summit on indecency to craft a new voluntary programming code.
“Setting your own standards is your best defense” against indecency charges, he said.
As for broadcasters who’ve called for clear indecency guidelines from the agency, Powell said that would be “unwise.”
“You do not want the government to write a ‘Red Book’ of Dos and Don’ts.” Heaver government involvement in a so-called “Dirty Conduct Code” “will not only chill speech, it may deep freeze it,” he said.
He told broadcasters the public has a right to expect them to be stewards of the airwaves, because stations were given free spectrum. Americans are upset at broadcasters, he said, not so much because Janet Jackson’s breast was bared on national TV, but because people want to know what type of programming to expect at certain times. What they don’t want, he said, is seeing such programming without warning.
The recent debate about media ownership has had a spillover effect on the indecency issue, he said, one that he predicted broadcasters will feel for a long time. This is happening, he said, as traditional broadcasting faces competition from “the rise of satellite radio, the Internet, video gaming and of course TiVo.”