Indecency


Issue
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has and uses the authority to issue fines for broadcasted material deemed indecent. Responding to concerns about a perceived increase in indecent content, some groups have called for additional penalties for such content and an expanded scope of federal broadcast indecency laws to cable and satellite networks.

AAF Position
The AAF is concerned about legislation aimed at increasing the regulation of content on television. We believe in self-regulation efforts in place at the networks designed to ensure best standards and practices, especially as it applies to advertising. We are also concerned about efforts to extend FCC broadcast standards to cable and satellite providers. Efforts to restrict content are an attack on free speech. This "chilling" of speech is evident in the way content providers have reacted to the incident at the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show.

Opposition
Family-interest and other like-minded groups, including Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, Commercial Alert and Media Research Center, say that protecting children from indecent content should be a top priority. FCC Chairman Kevin Martin has urged Congress to extend broadcast television indecency laws to include cable indecency regulation. House Judiciary Ranking Member F. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., was quoted in 2005 saying, "I'd prefer using the criminal process rather than the regulatory process" to fight indecency.

Legislation
Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., has indicated he will introduce legislation expanding government regulation of televised content, including regulating violent content in the same manner as indecent content. However, he has not yet introduced a bill.

In the past Congress, a bill was signed into law increasing the maximum indecency fines on television from $27,500 to $275,000. Proposals to extend broadcast indecency rules to cable and satellite stations were also introduced by not signed into law.

Last update: August 2007

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