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Upton Weighs In with Smut Bill - Broadcasting & Cable

Upton Weighs In with Smut Bill

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Beating Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) to the punch, Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) plans to introduce his broadcast-decency bill in the House Tuesday night.

Brownback will introduce his bill in the Senate Wednesday, which will boost the FCC's maximum indecency fines by ten-fold, to $325,00 per incident, with a cap of $3 million per day per station group owner.

The Upton bill has higher fines, boosting them to a maximum $500,000 per incident. It would also target performers by making them liable for a fine for a first offense. The FCC has not fined a performer, but under current rules it could only do so for a second offense (it can only issue a warning for the first).

The Upton bill, which is similar to one he introduced in the last Congress, would also mandate a license revocation hearing for a third indecency finding against a station, and would institute a 180-day shot clock, requiring the commission to act on a complaint within that time period.

Co-sponsors of Upton's bill are Joe Barton (R-Tex.), John Dingell (D-Mich.), and Ed Markey (D-Mass.).

"My law doesn't touch decency standards," said Upton Tuesday. "The laws for indecency have been on the books for decades and they have been upheld in the courts."We were close to getting this on the books last year, " he said "but we will complete the job this time around.... It is my hope that we can expedite the legislation and deliver something of real value to American families."

Brownback and Upton introduced similar bills in the last Congress, but they got loaded down with deal-breakers in committee, including targeting violence and media consolidation's effect on content.

Those deal-breakers were stripped before a final, “clean,” version of a single indecency ammendment was added to defense authorization legislation, but even that version was ultimately pruned in an attempt to get the authorization bill passed.

It has been almost a year since the Janet Jackson Super Bowl reveal prompted Congressional hearings and promises of a crackdown on indecency. The FCC has done its part, reversing a decision that an F-word from singer Bono on NBC was not indecent, fining CBS for the Jackson incident, and striking consent decree deals with major braodcasters in exchange for promises of tighter self-regulation.Brownback and Upton have pledged to give the FCC an even bigger stick

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