Senate Panel to Vote on TV-Indecency Bill


Sen. John D. (Jay) Rockefeller (D-W. Va.) introduced legislation Thursday that would give the Federal Communications Commission permission to fine TV stations for the fleeting broadcast of the F-word and similar profanities.

Rockefeller unveiled the bill moments after Senate Commerce Committee chairman Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) said the panel would vote on the measure next Thursday.

Rockefeller spokesman Steven Broderick said the senator would release separate legislation dealing with TV violence “soon.”

In June, a panel of U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit struck down the FCC’s new policy that even the one-time utterance of the F-word was indecent. FCC indecency fines can run as high as $325,000 per offense. FCC chairman Kevin Martin, who blasted the court ruling, has urged Congress to give the agency power to police the airwaves and regulate cable content.

Rockefeller’s bill emerged the same afternoon that the Senate Appropriations Committee defeated by voice vote an amendment sponsored by Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan) that had the same purpose as Rockefeller’s bill.

Brownback asked for the vote even though it was clear that he would lose. Despite agreeing with Brownback on policy, some senators said it was more important to honor the tradition of keeping spending bills free of rules and regulations directed at a federal agency than to support Brownback.