Viacom Fined, OKs Delay

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Viacom Inc. has agreed to pay the federal government $3.5 million to settle broadcast-indecency violations, and agreed to install delay systems at its CBS and UPN television stations to help guard against further violations during live telecasts.

The settlement last Tuesday with the Federal Communications Commission did not cover the $550,000 fine Viacom received for airing on CBS the Super Bowl halftime show in which singer Janet Jackson exposed her right breast. Viacom is fighting that FCC ruling.

Among other things, Viacom's consent decree, approved by a unanimous FCC, requires that within 30 days, the company install delay equipment in all TV and radio stations to edit “problematic live programming”; train on-air talent about FCC indecency rules; and suspend and perhaps fire employees whose actions trigger future FCC fines.

In another ruling, the FCC voted 3-2 that an episode of Keen Eddie aired by Fox was not indecent. The agency had received complaints about a June 10, 2003, episode that involved the hiring of a prostitute to arouse a horse in order to extract semen for sale on the black market.

FCC members Michael Copps and Kevin Martin dissented.

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