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Today, President Bush signed into law the Broadcast Indecency Enforcement Act, which increases the maximum fine allowed for violations of the broadcast indecency law from $32,500 to $325,000.
Robert Peters, President of Morality in Media, had the following comments:
“In a 1964 obscenity case, former Chief Justice Warren stated, ‘There is a right of the nation and states to maintain a decent society.’ Today, both the President and Congress are to be commended for making the FCC’s exercise of that right easier.
“Broadcasting is now dominated by media giants for whom a maximum fine of $32,500 can be treated as a readily affordable cost of doing business, like corporate executive parking tickets. Now, in an appropriate case, the FCC can levy a much larger fine that will hopefully get the attention of both corporate executives and shareholders.
“While there is a market for sex and vulgarity, opinion polls indicate that a large majority of the American people are offended by the glut of sex and vulgarity on TV. Parents in particular are concerned about the effects of indecent content on children.
“Increasing the maximum fine poses no threat to freedom of speech because the First Amendment was not intended to provide a license to pollute public spaces with indecent talk and pictures and because, as the Supreme Court has already held, enforcement of the indecency law does not constitute impermissible ‘censorship.’
“Nor will enforcement of the law reduce adults to hearing and seeing only what is fit for children. Adults who want to hear and view indecency may do so by, among other things, subscribing to cable and satellite TV premium channels, purchasing CDs and DVDs, or going to motion picture theatres and live performances. The time of day when aired is also an important factor in determining whether content is indecent.
“The V-chip can help, but the V-chip is no better than the rating system it is linked to; and the self- serving TV industry rating system is next to worthless. Furthermore, parental responsibility is no substitute for corporate responsibility. Both are needed.”
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