Lawmakers Approve Higher US Broadcast Indecency Fines

05 March 2004

US lawmakers have sent a clear message to media groups after nearly doubling the proposed fines for broadcast indecency.

The bipartisan House Commerce Committee this week amended the indecency bill passing through Congress so that broadcasters found guilty of breaching the rules face fines of up to $500,000 (€411,097; £274,177) per violation, with no limit on the penalty for repeat offences. The committee approved the change by 49 votes to one.

Earlier versions of the legislation set a maximum fine of $275,000 per breach -- itself a tenfold increase on the existing punishment -- and put a $3 million cap on multiple penalties.

"The fines will be at a level where they cannot be ignored," declared Representative Fred Upton (Republican, Michigan), chairman of the telecommunications subcommittee which originally produced the bill.

The legislation would also oblige regulators to review a broadcaster's licence after three indecency violations. It would call for a quicker response to complaints, and it would protect affiliates of the big networks from indecency fines relating to live programming they have been unable to review.

The revised measure is backed by the Bush administration and is expected to clear the full House of Representatives next week.

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff