Bill so FCC can fleece a fleeting utterance


Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) is not going after violent content with S. 1780, the "Protecting Children from Indecent Programming Act." He and his co-sponsors, Ted Stevens (R-AK), Mark Pryor (D-AR) and Dan Inouye (D-HI), are merely trying to provide a legislative underpinning for the FCC to be able to drop the hammer on speakers of a fleeting expletive. Here's the scoop: It is a bill "To require the FCC, in enforcing its regulations concerning the broadcast of indecent programming, to maintain a policy that a single word or image may be considered indecent." The bill does not one other single thing. It goes to the full committee for markup Thursday afternoon, 7/19/07. Rockefeller's planned assault on broadcast violence will wait for another day.

SmartMedia observation: This means the FCC would be able to bring out its heavy artillery, the full 325K punitive fine, if it so desires, assuming that this bill makes it through both houses of Congress and gets an autograph from the president. You never can tell on Capitol Hill, but this bill has the virtue of being extremely uncomplicated, and if Rockefeller can keep it free of excess amendment baggage, it could well be a bill members of both parties can support. The bottom line is that if this passes, the arsenal of delaying tactics will be thinned yet again. We've been through a major round of consent decrees and we've had the narrowly focused court ruling that led to this bill. Sooner or later the whole indecency infrastructure is going to get its day in court, probably after the FCC uses its new six-figure fine on somebody who already signed a consent decree and becomes a repeat offender.