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WSJ: FCC Indecency Actions Uneven

WSJ: FCC Indecency Actions Uneven

The FCC levied a record-setting $7.9 million in broadcast indecency fines last year, raising concerns about the crackdown among radio groups, many of which adopted “zero tolerance” policies for indecency and obscenity.
The Wall Street Journal says the commission received more than 189 broadcast indecency complaints through the end of September, but it has yet to issue penalties, puzzling observers, who felt the issue would receive heightened attention under the new chairman.
The Journal reports a split on the issue, with Martin, a Republican, and Democratic Commissioner Michael Copps supporting higher fines and holding performers and broadcasters accountable for actionably indecent statements per show. Republican Kathleen Abernathy and Democrat Jonathan Adelstein prefer “more modest actions,” according to the report.
Some observers question whether the FCC’s complaint count is accurate, the account notes. Since 2003, the FCC has counted those generated as the result of mass mailings by interest groups such as the Parents Television Council as individual complaints; previously, it had grouped those as one. That helps explain the more than tenfold increase in complaints to roughly 166,000 in 2003, up from 14,000 in 2002.
While the Journal did not obtain an interview with Martin, he issued a statement: “We are working very hard to address the backlog of complaints before us, which is fairly substantial. In clearing out this backlog, we are trying to act in a consistent and comprehensive manner.”
NAB told the Journal broadcasters would like more clarity to the indecency rules.