Will Congress back Brownback amendments?


Sam Brownback (R-KS) shepherded the new 325K indecency fines through the Senate (in partnership with its original sponsor, Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), but since that happened, an appellate court ruled that broadcasters were immune from punishment for unintended, fleeting instances of indecency. Brownback is going to try to put such mistakes back within range of the FCC's Enforcement Bureau, and will add an attack on excessive violence as well. He's aiming a pair of amendments at the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill to that end. "Broadcasters should not be allowed to use the public airways to disseminate violent or obscene material," said Brownback. "The abundance of indecent material on television is one indication of the coarsening of our culture."

As stated in a release, "The first amendment Brownback plans to offer will continue support for the FCC to fine broadcasters who air indecent, profane, or obscene content." This will enable the FCC to go after fleeting expletives. "The second amendment Brownback plans to offer authorizes the FCC to fine broadcasters for airing excessively violent content during the hours when children are most likely to be in the audience."

Brownback concluded, "Parents should not have such a difficult time protecting their children from broadcast television. The FCC's ability to restrict the gratuitous use of obscene, violent, and indecent content on broadcast television is essential to the protection of children and families."

SmartMedia observation: Interesting that Brownback's press release mentions the first amendment in lower case, when it is the upper case First Amendment that is going to provide what is likely to be an insurmountable hurdle to his amendments, which we hope his committee mates have the good sense to reject. On the violence side, we wonder if he knows something that Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) does not. Rockefeller has been planning to introduce legislation on broadcast violence but has delayed that project to study the implications of the very court decision to which Brownback is reacting. The wording of such legislation would be critical to its ability to survive a court challenge, and it is likely that there are no such words. But hey, he'll be able to talk about how he tried to protect our children when he's out on the campaign trail.