Stevens Urges Senate to Pass Indecency Bill

Protecting Children from Indecency Programming Act Would Give FCC Authority to Fine Fleeting Profanities and Nudity 12/06/2007 07:30:00 AM Eastern

As the opportunities for passing legislation this year dwindle down to a precious few, Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), vice chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, called on his colleagues to approve a bill that would give the Federal Communications Commission express authority to fine fleeting profanities and nudity, although it would not direct the agency to do so.

Ted Stevens

The bill, the Protecting Children from Indecency Programming Act (S. 1780), was introduced by Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W. Va.) after a Federal Appeals Court found that the FCC had not justified its decision to crack down on fleeting profanities, specifically in a case involving swearing by Cher and Nicole Ritchie on a Fox awards-show broadcast.

The FCC appealed that decision to the Supreme Court, arguing that it did justify it. The agency said the decision essentially ties its hands when it comes to policing the airwaves for profanities. FCC chairman Kevin Martin even joked about his decision.

The bill passed in the Senate Commerce Committee but never got a floor vote. It was only filed yesterday, a procedure that signals the committee is seeking a floor vote, though the majority leader controls the calendar.

“I urge the Senate to take up this important legislation,” Stevens said in a statement Thursday. “Radio and broadcast TV are still the way most Americans get their news and entertainment. Whether sitting in a car with your children or in front of the TV, the American public should be able to expect that they will not be barraged with unexpected indecent material, whether it is through an image or a word.”

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