Indecency Actions Still a No-Show

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With only three weeks and change left in the year, the FCC commissioners still have not been presented with a package of proposed indecency fines and complaint dismissals for their sign-off, according to exiting Commissioner Kathleen Abernathy.

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin has indicated that releasing them together could help give broadcasters better direction about what the FCC thinks does and doesn't violate its ban on indecent broadcast programming between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.

Abernathy still expects them to be issued before the end of the year, but if it is to be before the end of her tenure, then it will have to be by Friday, Dec. 9, her last day.

Nothing indecency-related was listed on the FCC's notice of agenda items for the Dec. 9 meeting.

The FCC has proposed no indecency fines in 2005. One reason may be that a number of major media companies--including Viacom, Clear Channel, and Emmis Communications--have settled a host of those complaints already with both dollars and pledges to crack down on content the FCC doesn't like.

Still, 189,362 complaints had been filed in 2005 against 720 broadcast and cable programs, according to the FCC's last published count. Only 84 of those shows were on cable, but that is still more than double the previous high of  38 cable shows drawing compaints in 2002. Those complaints will wind up in the dismissed pile, since the FCC lacks the authority to regulate cable indecency, though there are some in Congress who want to find a way to give it that power.
If the FCC did not release the actions this year, it would be the first year since at least 1993 that no fines were proposed.

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