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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 February, 2005, 22:37 GMT
US Congress focuses on indecency
Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake
Jackson's 2004 Super Bowl "nipplegate" has gone down in TV history
The US House of Representatives has overwhelmingly approved a bill authorising huge fines for indecency.

The focus on indecency legislation follows the furore over Janet Jackson's breast exposure at the 2004 Super Bowl.

The bill, passed by 389 votes to 38 on Wednesday, boosts the maximum penalty for firms and individual entertainers to $500,000 (265,000).

But the bill, supported by the White House, cannot become law until the Senate approves similar legislation.

Legislators said stiffer fines were needed to force broadcasters to clean up their programmes and protect children from inappropriate material.

The measures would require the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to act on complaints within six months and would allow them to consider violations when renewing licences.

Morality

"This is a penalty that makes broadcasters sit up and take notice," said Republican Congressman Joe Barton.

"This legislation makes great strides in making it safe for families to come back into their living room."

President George W Bush made moral values a central tenet of his campaign for re-election in November 2004.

The White House said in a statement that such legislation "will make broadcast television and radio more suitable for family viewing".

The Senate is considering a similar bill, which has raised objections about its effect on freedom of speech and the difficulty of defining indecency.

Both houses must agree on similar legislation if a law is to come into force. Last year, the two chambers were unable to reach a compromise.

Democrat Jan Schakowsky, who opposed the bill, said: "We would see self- and actual censorship rise to new and undesirable heights."


SEE ALSO:
US indecency fines could rocket
10 Feb 05 |  Entertainment
$550,000 fine for Janet exposure
23 Sep 04 |  Entertainment
Janet Jackson flash 'accidental'
30 Mar 04 |  Entertainment
'Shock jock' slams Janet backlash
27 Feb 04 |  Entertainment
Politicians' fury at Janet flash
12 Feb 04 |  Entertainment


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