The Senate Commerce Committee on Tuesday unanimously approved legislation to impose harsher indecency penalties, but the proposal could get bogged down by an amendment that would reinstate the old FCC ownership rules.
The main thrust of The Broadcast Decency Enforcement Act of 2004 is a three-tiered structure that'll fetch you a maximum fine of $275,000 for your first violation, $375,000 for the second and $500,00 for the third and beyond. The Senate bill would also cap indecency fines at $3 million for a single day of violations. (The House equivalent calls for a flat maximum of $500,000 per incident with no maximum.)
Like the House version, the Senate proposal mandates license revocation hearings after three offenses.
Lawmakers attached several amendments during Tuesday's markup session, including one that could mire the measure down in partisan bickering. It would reinstate the FCC's old ownership rules until the government can study the relationship between indecency complaints and media consolidation.
Left out of Republican Senator Sam Brownback's bill were amendments that would make pay TV services subject to indecency rules and force cable and satellite providers to offer individual channels instead of channel packages.