Barton Inclined To Conference Smut Bills - Broadcasting & Cable

Barton Inclined To Conference Smut Bills

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House Energy & Commerce Chairman Joe Barton (R-Tex.) Wednesday said he was inclined to go to conference to resolve the differences in the two indecency bills now passed by the House and Senate.

Talking to reporters after a hearing on another matter, he said that the leadership of both Commerce Committees were working on conferencing the bills which have major differences.

The Senate bill, backed by Senator Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) would only boost the FCC's maximum indecency fine tenfold, from $32,500 to $325,000. The House bill would boost the fines by another $175,000 to $500,000, would make performers liable for the same increased fines and remove the current first warning to performers before a fine can be levied, and would designate a station's license for hearing after three findings of indecency.

Another option if the two bills cannot be reconciled is to simply have a full House vote on the Senate version that passed by unanimous consent last week, which could then go to the President for his signature.

It is increasingly likely that the Brownback version will pass, since it has gained support from unions and the Parents Television Council, the primary indecency complainer. In addition, elections are coming up in November and legislators are likely to want to avoid facing constitutents having done nothing in the two years since the Janet Jackson reveal.

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