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Stevens Ponders Path to Cable Smut Regs - Broadcasting & Cable

Stevens Ponders Path to Cable Smut Regs

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Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), Chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, has been meeting with cable and radio execs, and staffers have met with members of the National Association of Broadcasters on whether and how to regulate cable indecency.

Talks center on a staff draft of an indecency bill to increse FCC fines and tighten enforcement, but there is currently no cable provision in the draft.

Stevens has been saying for a while that there should be some way to regulate cable indecency, though early tough talk softened somewhat into a simultaneous push for industry self-regulation.

No timetable for a bill markup.

The Commerce Committee is looking to come up with the complement to a House indecency bill, passed last year, and add the cable-related "modifications," if possible, according to one staffer.

Stevens is said to have come to no hard conclusions on what is doable on cable indecency, but has some ideas coming out of the meetings with media types.

The House bill, which passed overwhelmingly last February, ups the maximum indecency fines for stations and performers from $32,500 and $11,000, respectively, to $500,000. It also toughens enforcement by requiring the FCC to act more swiftly on complaints and makes one indecency fine a factor in license renewals and three an automatic trigger for a license revocation hearing.

But the House bill does not include a host of provisions, targeting everything from cable to violence to media ownership, that some House members had tried to include in the bill.

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