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Thursday, June 15, 2006

Bush signs bill to increase FCC indecency fines
Tom Henry at 7:21 PM ET

[JURIST] One week after the US House of Representatives voted [JURIST report] 379-35 [roll call] to pass the Broadcast Decency Enforcement Act [S 193 summary], President Bush signed into law [remarks] the legislation that will increase by tenfold the maximum fine for indecency, from $32,500 to $325,000 per station for each violation. The Senate passed the bill [JURIST report] in May. The effort to increase penalties against broadcasters has been a recurrent theme in Congress since Janet Jackson's 2004 Super Bowl "wardrobe malfunction" [Wikipedia backgrounder].

The House passed a different version of the bill [JURIST report; PDF text] last year which would have increased the maximum fine to $500,000 per violation, per station. After the approval of that bill, the National Association of Broadcasters [trade website] came out against increased indecency penalties, saying in a brief statement [text] that "voluntary industry initiatives are far preferable to government regulation when dealing with programming issues." NAB spokesman Dennis Wharton repeated the basic point [NAB statement] after the Bush signing Wednesday: "In issues related to programming content, NAB believes responsible self-regulation is preferable to government regulation. If there is regulation, it should be applied equally to cable and satellite TV, and satellite radio." AP has more.

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