A classic case of over-reaching


Florida attorney John B. Thompson claims a lot of the credit for chasing Howard Stern off radio and all the way into space, and as part of his vendetta against Stern, he roped in Beasley Broadcast Group's WQAM-AM Miami. But Thompson was not content to stop at indecent broadcasting. As he detailed in a letter to commissioners in office at the time, he accused Beasley of "…racketeering, extortion, assault, distributing sexual material to minors, obstruction of justice and perjury." Thompson made his viewpoint on these matters known publicly via press releases. Beasley did not take it lying down.

The group defended itself at the Commission level, but also took strong exception at being branded as a criminal enterprise. Among other things, it protested Thompson's standing to practice law to the Florida Bar, arguing that is was an ethical breach to use unproven criminal allegations against both Beasley and its representatives.

Thompson complained of harassment by Beasley in order to coerce him into ceasing pursuit of his indecency complaints, but Beasley was careful to indicate its respect for Thompson's right to complain about its programming. The group objected to being labeled criminal in the absence of any conviction (much less so much as a single criminal indictment).

In a lengthy 17-page finding, the FCC struck down all of Thompson's complaints against Beasley.

RBR observation: Thompson had personally attacked some of Beasley's on-air staffers in this lengthy and tangled conflict, even allegedly getting the IRS involved in one case, and apparently in some cases they responded on the air, sometimes in despicable fashion. Besides pointing out the hopelessness of defining indecency, since they were able to make extremely vile comments without getting anywhere near any of the magic words that could result in an indecency finding, Thompson, in his zeal to clean up the airwaves, actually forced to FCC to defend this garbage. Talk about negative feedback. Regardless of what you think of the ins and outs of playing on the edge with shock jocks, Beasley deserves kudos for providing a textbook example of how to defend against attacks of this nature.