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Brownback Bill Could Get Commerce Mark-up - Broadcasting & Cable

Brownback Bill Could Get Commerce Mark-up

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Kansas Republican Sam Brownback's version of a bill boosting FCC indecency fines had not been set for markup in the Senate Commerce Committee at press time, but it still could be.

"There is currently no markup agenda" for that bill, said Senate Commerce Committee Press Secretary Aaron Saunders Wednesday.

That was in response to suggestions by a source close to the issue that the committee intended to mark up the bill May 18.

Like the House version, the Brownback bill would boost FCC fines dramatically. Unlike the House bill, however, it would not put a TV station's FCC licenses in jeopardy after three indecency violations and would not remove the first warning on performers that is in the current FCC rules.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist was reported to have tried to bypass Commerce Committee consideration of a bill by scheduling a Senate voice vote on the House indecency bill. Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) had no objections, but apparently someone else did since at least one Senator put a hold on the bill, according to a Commerce Committee source.

Performer unions, which are, not surprisingly, strongly opposed to making it easier to fine performers as well as socking them with the increased fines, would prefer the Brownback version.

It wouldn't be unusual for the committee not to have an agenda yet for a bill being marked up next week, so the mark-up remains a possibility, although Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) has said he would prefer to see whether industry self-regulatory efforts are effective before deciding whether or not to legislate.

Frist could also slate a floor vote on the Brownback bill, again bypassing the committee. Spokesmen for Frist and Brownback had not returned calls at press time.

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