FCC Chairman Michael Powell said he would not support indecency legislation that mandates license revocation for a station after its third violation. "I don't think you should reduce something as facile and vague as indecency to clear cause-and-effect consequences," Powell said in a Q&A session on Tuesday with ABC's Sam Donaldson at the NAB convention. "I don't like the idea that we could trip into license revocation."
Although the Chairman presiding over this year's indecency clampdown admits the concept of indecency is inherently "vague," he's not in favor of more clearly defining it. "You do not want the government to write a red book of what you can say and what you can't say," he said, echoing comments he made earlier this year.
Powell would support extending the Commission's indecency rules to cable and satellite, but only with Congressional support. "I don't believe the First Amendment should change channels when it goes from seven to 107," he said. But Powell also sounded a cautionary note, saying the government should be "exceedingly conservative about any regulation of content for anyone."
One influential member of Congress, Joe Barton (R-TX), believes lawmakers will try to extend indecency rules to cable and satellite. However, the Chairman of the House Commerce Committee said it's still a few years down the road and it would only happen after cable and satellite self-policing efforts fail.
Also at the NAB convention in Las Vegas, Senator Conrad Burns (R-MT) predicted the Senate would act on proposed new indecency legislation within two weeks.
Meanwhile, John Thompson is taking his decency crusade to television. The man who filed the complaint that caused Clear Channel to fire Howard Stern has faxed a complaint to the FCC over Sunday night's 60 Minutes broadcast on CBS. Seems singer Mary J. Blige uttered an under-her-breath "shit" during the broadcast. Thompson says "this constitutes a violation of FCC-enforced decency standards, just as surely as" Bono's F-bomb did on last year's Golden Globes.