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Indecency Bill Slated for Wed. Markup - Broadcasting & Cable

Indecency Bill Slated for Wed. Markup

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The House Commerce Committee will mark up its indecency bill (H.R. 310_ in the full committee Wednesday.

That's according to an aide to House Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.).

The bill is bypassing the subcommittee this time and going straight to the full committee, where it passed 49 to 1 last year before dying of too many amendment, including ones that would have looked to link indecency to media consolidation and possibly expand the definition to violence, and even cable and satellite.

The Broadcast Decency Enforcement Act of 2005 is essentially the same bill that passed out of the committee last year.

It would:

  • Boost FCC fines for indecency from $32,500 per violation to $500,000 and for performers from $11,000 to $500,000.
  • Remove the first warning for performers. Although the FCC has never fined a performer, under the present rules it cannot do so until it has issued one warning.
  • Make license revocation a potential penalty for three violations (the so-called three-strikes policy), and make one violation a factor in considering fitness for holding a license..
  • Give the FCC 180 days to act on complaints, and make it report annually to Congress on its enforcement actions.
  • Take mitigating factors into account when levying fines, including ability to pay, whether the broadcast was live or taped, whether the broadcaster had ample time to review the material.
  • Require broadcasters as part of their penalty to air PSA's that reach up to five times the audience of the indecent broadcast.
    Require the GAO to study the FCC's enforcement policy and report back to Congress.

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