Ownership change no escape for indecency fine

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A broadcast licensee cannot escape liability for indecency violations
after parent ownership changes, the Federal Communications Commission ruled
Friday.

In upholding a $16,800 fine against WLDI Inc., licensee of WCOM(FM) Bayamon,
Puerto Rico, the FCC ruled that the transfer of ownership from Chancellor Media Corp. to
Spanish Broadcasting System after the sanctioned material was broadcast did not affect the
licensee's culpability.

"In many cases, the entity's employees remain with the company after a
transfer. If the employees (or the prospective transferor) knew that the
licensee would be insulated from forfeiture actions for violations preceding a
transfer of control, they would have less incentive to comply with the law," the
FCC said in its order.

SBS acquired WLDI Inc. in January 2000, three months after the
indecent material aired.

In another case, the FCC held a station liable for indecent remarks made by a
guest that caught an interview off-guard and unable to edit with a time-delay
device.

Rubber City Group, operator of WONE-FM Akron, Ohio, was fined $7,000 for an
indecent broadcast in which a guest from MTV: Music Television show Jackass told a joke
about sticking a knife in an infant's rectum.

The FCC found that WONE should have anticipated the "questionable nature of
the guest's material" because a station employee admitted that past Jackass guests had "a reputation
for being 'rebellious' and a penchant for 'getting a rise out of
people.'"

WONE attorney Erwin Krasnow said sanctioning a station for a guest's surprise comment is unprecedented. "The FCC made new law here and it's bad law."

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