After several months in legislative limbo, a bill that would radically hike indecency fines may be resuscitated in the Senate. A vote was scheduled for Monday (6/21) on an amendment to a Defense Department authorization bill offered by Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS) that would increase indecency fines to a maximum of $275,000 per violation with a cap at $3 million for any continuing violation.
Under an add-on provision introduced by Senator Conrad Burns (R-MT), market size and a licensee's ability to pay the fine would be considered. Not included in the amendment are the two controversial provisions that pretty much killed indecency legislation in the Senate in the first place: one that would roll back FCC ownership limits and another that would study violence in the media.
As of Friday, Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) was still threatening to put the ownership provision back into the bill, which could derail it once again. (It was Dorgan who lead the effort in the Senate to reverse the FCC's June 2, 2003 media ownership rulemaking.)
"We have been waiting for years for broadcasters to voluntarily take care of this growing problem, and they have failed," Brownback said late last week. "And instead they are fighting tooth and nail for the ability to air graphic material so that they can increase their profit margins. America deserves better."