Stevens Won't Object To Fast-Tracking Smut Bill

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Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Senator Ted Stevens would have no objection to Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) fast-tracking the House indecency bill, a senior staffer said Wednesday.

In response to calls from anti-indecency groups who have complained about the lack of a Senate indecency bill out of the Commerce Committee--the House version passed last year--Frist is said to have expressed his intention to move a bill unless there are any objections.

Stevens has said he wanted to give industry self-regulation efforts a chance before legislation, and has said he does not believe there are enough votes to pass a bill anyway. But he said he would be ready to "engage in the process" if the House bill goes to the floor.

If there are any objections, however, it would take only a single senator to block the bill. One Commerce Committee source said such a hold is almost a given.

As B&C reported Monday, the Christian Coalition and other groups were pressuring Frist to take the bill straight to the floor.

For its part, the Parents Television Council was quick to weigh in Wednesday on the possiblity of a hold.  “Let me be very clear about this," said PTC PResident Brent Bozell: We will make a national issue out of this should any Senator attempt to block the will of the American people."

The House bill, the result of Janet Jackson's half-time reveal, would dramatically boost the FCC's indecency fines--from $32,500 per incident to $500,000, make performers liable for a fine for a first offense rather than giving them a warning first--and it would put station license revocation on the table after three indecency findings.
The bill would also direct the GAO to study FCC indecency enforcement and require the FCC every three years to update its indecency policy statement every three years to give broadcasters a better idea of what is indecent.
The FCC released a bundle of TV-related FCC findings in March for the express purpose of giving broadcasters more guidance, but that effort has met with decidedly mixed reviews.
The House bill was passed in February 2005, a year after the Super Bowl snafu.

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