Regulation Now, Regulation Forever


The only local broadcaster witness at next week’s House hearing on indecency will be asking for more indecency regulation, not less.

Even before the Super Bowl incident that spurred the hearing, Harry Pappas, chairman of Pappas Telecasting, Visalia, Calif., sent a letter to some House members complaining of lax indecency enforcement. Tracing the problem to powerful networks abridging a station’s right to control content, he not only supported a bill increasing fines but said such rulings weren’t enough.

Pappas also backs a far more problematic bill, introduced by California Republican Doug Ose, that would make some words–six of the "seven dirty" plus a few additions–indecent regardless of context.

Since the High Court in the George Carlin case made context a must consideration, most observers believe Ose’s bill won’t pass constitutional scrutiny.

Pappas also wants an "inviolate" station right to reject "indecent, profane, or otherwise inappropriate" programming. In fact, he says, such a right is crucial to reining it in.