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Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 June, 2004, 14:44 GMT 15:44 UK
Senate increases indecency fines
Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake
500,000 viewers complained about Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction"
Pressure on US broadcasters to "clean up" their act mounted on Tuesday when the US Senate backed increased fines for airing indecent material.

Under the new measure, the maximum fine would increase to as much as $275,000 (151,000) for each indecent incident.

The fines would keep increasing per incident until a maximum fine of $3m (1,649,440) a day was reached.

The US House of Representatives passed a similar bill in March that set fines for indecency at $500,000 (275,000).

Differences between the two bills must be worked out before the new measures can be amalgamated into one law.

Complaints

We're going to have to take action because the broadcasters won't police themselves
Senator Sam Brownback
The issue of indecency on US radio and television has been a major talking point since pop star Janet Jackson exposed her breast on live TV during the Superbowl transmission last February.

The incident generated more than 500,000 complaints to the Federal Complaints Commission (FCC).

Controversial "shock jock" Howard Stern was dropped by US media giant Clear Channel after regulators fined the company $495,000 (270,000) for indecency aired during Stern's show.

The company also fired Florida DJ Bubba the Love Sponge, after he played a sexually explicit conversation between spoof cartoon characters on his show.

Howard Stern
Stern was fired after he conducted a sexually explicit interview on air

Despite signs of a clampdown on indecency by the media, politicians and lawmakers have expressed dissatisfaction with the broadcasters' self-regulatory bodies.

Families

"People are tired of this indecent material on over-the-air public broadcast, particularly during prime time when people's families are watching," said Republican senator Sam Brownback of Kansas, who sponsored the new bill.

"We're going to have to take action because the broadcasters won't police themselves."

The Senate passed the new measures without floor debate on a 99-1 vote as part of a impending defense bill. The only senator who voted against the bill was Senator John Breaux of Louisiana.

Breaux said he opposed the bill partly because "it deals with communications and media issues and should not have been attached to a national security and defence bill".

The final legislation will be drafted by the Senate-House conference committee.


SEE ALSO:
Media giant in 'obscenity' cull
10 Apr 04  |  Entertainment
US broadcasters fight indecency
02 Apr 04  |  Entertainment
'Huge fines' for US TV indecency
04 Mar 04  |  Entertainment


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