Stevens: Keep Heat on Broadcasters


Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) possible successor atop the Senate Commerce Committee, plans to keep the heat on broadcasters over indecency.

Stevens invoked the Super Bowl snafu, now virtually boilerplate in any D.C. indecency reference, in saying that Congress needs to look at indecency and TV violence, and to consider mandating a family hour (Sen. Fritz Hollings is pushing a family hour bill).

Stevens said Congress needs to consider what the standard of conduct should be for those who deliver content to audiences that include young children.

Citing the effort in the House to boost indecency fines tenfold, he suggested that was far from enough. When you compare the $275,000 figure that would be the new top fine, he said, with the price of a Super Bowl ad, "it is no deterrent at all."

Stevens also said rewriting the Telecommunications Act "as soon as possible" would be a commerce priority. He said it was critical to transform communications law to create a more uniform regulatory regimen for the wired and wireless worlds.

His comments came in remarks to the Quello Symposium on communications policy in Washington yesterday, where Stevens was introduced by his old friend Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), who will seek the Commerce Chairmanship if the Democrats win the Senate.

Whichever party wins, said Stevens, he expects their agendas to be similar, which means broadcasters could face ongoing content scrutiny for some time to come.