Indecency Legislation Losing Steam?
June 7, 2004

It seems that Janet Jackson's naked breast has been overshadowed by naked Iraqi prisoners. The post Super Bowl indecency dust-up in Congress has apparently subsided, as more important issues have consumed the attention of legislators. In today's New York Times (6/7), an article by Jacques Steinberg points out that proposed indecency legislation that cleared the Senate Commerce Committee back in March appears to be stalled, as some senators are apparently afraid of investing a lot of political capital in an issue that has become quite divisive, pitting conservative and child-advocacy groups against big broadcasters and civil rights activists. Steinberg questions whether the legislation will reach President Bush's desk before the November election.

Many legislators apparently feel that indecency on the American airwaves pales in comparison to the prisoner abuse scandal in Iraq, and they don't want to be seen has having their priorities out of whack by pursuing indecency legislation at this time. Additionally, many people are beginning to have second thoughts about the indecency crackdown, as stories spread about Classic Rock songs that have been FM radio staples for years being pulled from the airwaves, as well as the editing of critically acclaimed programs such as "Prime Suspect" on PBS.

Differences between the House and Senate versions of indecency legislation could also result in prolonged debate, as the Senate bill goes beyond sexual content and also addresses media violence. The Senate bill would also roll back rules passed last year allowing media cross-ownership of broadcast stations and newspapers.




 
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