FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell says the commission needs
to start processing indecency complaints now that the Supreme Court is through
with court challenges to the FCC's authority.
In testimony for a July 10 FCC oversight hearing in the
House Communications Subcommittee, McDowell says that as the father of three
young kids, he is concerned about protecting them from inappropriate content.
"The Commission should act with all deliberate speed to
clarify its indecency policy in the wake of the recent Supreme Court decision,"
he says. That will allow it to work through the roughly 1.5 million complaints
(involving 9,700 broadcasts and about 700 pending station license renewals,
says McDowell), some of which date back almost a decade.
"As a matter of public policy, Congress has made it
clear that keeping the broadcast airwaves free from material that may be
inappropriate for children during the hours when they are likely to be watching
is a high priority for the directly elected representatives of the American
people as well," says McDowell.
He says the FCC needs to decide whether it needs to modify
its enforcement policy, and how it will ensure broadcasters have sufficient
notice of whatever it does.
The Supreme Court threw out FCC indecency decisions on the
grounds it had not provided sufficient notice of its crackdown on fleeting
indecencies after decades of having not done so. But it also suggested that the
commission had served that notice by 2004.
That is one item on a lengthy FCC "to do" list the
commissioner plans to outline for legislators. Also on that list: new spectrum
incentive auction rules; completing universal service contribution reforms;
"modernizing" ownership rules; and repelling international efforts to
regulate the 'net.
McDowell has been one of the loudest voices for resisting an
effort by some countries -- Russia and China among them - -to give the UN
Internet governance powers. He praises the subcommittee for its recently
adopted resolution also opposing such and effort.