Commerce Takes Aim at Indecency


Senate Commerce Committee chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) is said to be working on an amendment to an indecency bill that would require cable and satellite providers to offer all their networks on a per-channel fee basis.

The move would allow subscribers to effectively build their own lineups. The bill is being marked up in the committee Tuesday.

Elsewhere, committee member Sen. John Breaux (D-La.) wants an amendment that would apply indecency regulation to the basic service of multichannel video programming providers until 85% of the populace is using the V-chip or can block channels.

And then there's the broadcaster stuff:

According to a copy of the manager's amendment (which will effectively replace the existing bill), the bill will set indecency fines at $275,000, the tenfold increase originally proposed in an already-passed House version (the House version as passed instead boosted those fines to $500,000 per incident after broadcasters themselves said the weren't high enough). The balance of the base bill mirrors the House, but other amendments being drafted would load it down with a laundry list (or should that be "dirty laundry list") of new indecency restrictions.

Among other possible amendments:

1) A "three strikes and your license is in jeopardy" provision (also similar to House).

2) Pave way for broadcasters to create family programming hours.

3) Require broadcasters to keep a six-month log of programming to help complainants document offending material.

4) Moratorium on June 2 FCC ownership dereg.

5) Restore crossownership rules.

6) Create a violence safe harbor.