FCC Chairman Michael Powell appeared on the Fox News program Your World with Neil Cavuto last Friday, speaking about the issue of fines for indecency on the airwaves. This morning, Howard Stern was playing back the tape and, of course, when his name was brought up, the King of All Media paid attention and had some comments of his own.
When asked about the FCC "silencing voices" like Stern's, Powell said, "I think that's really a very terrible mischaracterization of the commission's action. I don't think it's enough to say we don't make any value judgements about the content, but these arguments are usually [from] people who do not accept that the U.S. Congress has passed laws over the last several decades that allow the regulation of indecent content."
During the comment, Stern asked, "But what's indecent? Why won't you go to court about it and let it be defined?"
Powell defended the Commission's actions, saying that his job as the head of the FCC is to merely enforce the laws and not to agree or disagree with them. When asked if he listens to Stern's show, Powell said he does and called him "a real radio talent" with "a quality show that a lot of people listen to." However, Powell added, "I don't accept the view that Howard Stern, by use of the public airwaves, has the legal right to say whatever he chooses without legal consequences."
Powell also said that the idea that Stern was being "persecuted" is "nonsense" and that "nobody is targeting Howard Stern." Stern of course, disagreed and brought up that the Commission has not fined Oprah Winfrey for the now-infamous discussion of oral sex on her show.
Powell also said that the FCC indecency fines are not a partisan issue or a Republican agenda, since all of the Democrats on the Commission have voted in favor of the fines as well.