Copps Calls Smut Bill 'Powerful Message' - Broadcasting & Cable

Copps Calls Smut Bill 'Powerful Message'

Author:
Publish date:

FCC Commissioner Michael Copps Tuesday said that last week's unanimous Senate passage of the  bill boosting indecency fines tenfold sent "a powerful message." He said the fact that the increased fines "will now possibly be available to the commission [the bill must still be reconciled with a tougher House version] obviously gets the attention of anybody who is concerned."

Calling indecency a difficult and sensitive topic, he nonetheless said that there was "plenty for everybody to do" on the issue, beginning with the family, but including the industry, the commission and Congress.

"I think the family has the responsibility for understanding the tools that are available," he said in a press conference with reporters, praising industry efforts to help parents do that.

"I applaud the idea that they are highlighting the use of new tools, trying to educate people on their use." But he said that effort "should not be to the exclusion of coming forward with other ideas for family-friendly programming and carrying through on the commitment that NAB and others gave about what they are going to do. We have been waiting two years," he said.

And, "there is plenty for the commission to do from the standpoint of implementing the law," Copps said.

Many in the industry have taken issue with that implementation, arguing that the guidance provided by the FCC's mid March raft of proposed indecency fines and complaint dismissals was more confusing than instructive.

Copps sees the process as a cumulative exercise, or what he called "going through the hard laborious process of trying to compile a base of precedent. I think that is the only way you can bring guidance to an industry. You can't just bring down the tablets and say: 'Here's all the rules you are ever going to need to understand.'" Copps says Chairman Kevin Martin has been trying to build the record as he clears up the "backlog" of complaints.

Copps called it "rather impressive" that the Senate passed by unanimous consent the Brownback bill boosting FCC indecency fines tenfold, which meant that not a single senator objected.

The commissioner reiterated his opposition to fining performers--an indecency bill passed by the House would boost performers, while the Senate version would not.

But, ultimately, said Copps, his job "is not to second guess the law or to debate the substance of it, but to implement it."

Related