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Speak Out on Smut

4/13/2003 08:00:00 PM Eastern

Editor: Oddly, talk radio—a bastion of free speech—seems to be crying out for some measure of content regulation, in the wake of the WKRK-FM incident (B&C, 4/7, p. 2). Yet FCC commissioners ducked and double-talked-around requests for clarification, during two question-and-answer sessions at the NAB convention in Las Vegas.

Commissioner [Michael] Copps has been on the smut warpath since the Opie & Anthony sex-in-St. Patrick's Cathedral episode, which aired on Infinity's co-owned WNEW-FM. He says the $27,500 fine levied against WKRK-FM is inadequate, and he's calling for [license-]revocation hearings.

But, when asked by both moderators and attendees in both NAB sessions whether the WKRK-FM case would end with the fine or whether there will be a revocation hearing, not one of the FCC's five commissioners would offer a simple yes/no response.

Chairman [Michael] Powell went as far as to laughingly admit that the FCC's general counsel, sitting in the audience, had gestured that he not reply. Should this not be a matter of public record? Having read a published transcript of the broadcast in question, I cannot imagine that radio has suffered more-graphic, gratuitous pornography than the Deminski & Doyle
show that WKRK-FM aired during the 4 p.m. hour, when many parents would have had children in the car. It seems unfair to threaten that similar future programming by other
licensees will be dealt with more harshly, without the guidance of a clear determination concerning these repeated demonstrations of Infinity's custody of the public trust.

Holland Cooke, Talk-radio consultant, Block Island, R.I. www.HollandCooke.com

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