Bush Signs Bill to Hike Indecency Fines

19 June 2006

President George Bush has gladdened the hearts of America's new puritans (and bolstered Republican electoral hopes) by signing legislation to raise fines for broadcast lewdness.

The Broadcast Decency Enforcement Act, which raises the penalty per violation to a maximum of $325,000 (€254K; £175K), is the apogee of a two year campaign by advocacy groups to reduce nudity, obscenity and sexual references on the public airwaves [WAMN: 09-Jun-06]

Bush told Congress and Federal Communications Commission chairman Kevin Martin: "This law will ensure that broadcasters take seriously their duty to keep the public airwaves free of obscene, profane and indecent material. American families expect and deserve nothing less."

He called the previous maximum fine of $32,500 "relatively painless" for some broadcasters.

Chief anti-smut lobbyist Brent Bozell, president of the Parents Television Council, says the signing of the bill comes as families are "fed up with the sexually raunchy and gratuitously violent content that's broadcast over the public airwaves, particularly during hours when millions of children are in the viewing audience."

Although the FCC is authorized to levy fines on indecent broadcasts aired from 6am to 10pm, it is not permitted to regulate cable TV content - a disparity the National Association of Broadcasters wants changed.

Says NAB spokesman Dennis Wharton: "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."

Data sourced from Adweek (USA); additional content by WARC staff