Emmis paying $300,000 on 'Mancow' charges

WASHINGTON — The Federal Communications Commission continues to churn out indecency rulings.

This time Emmis Communications, which broadcasts “Mancow in the Morning Madhouse” program out of Chicago, agreed to pay $300,000 to the feds to settle nearly four years of outstanding indecency complaints.

Shockjock Mancow Muller has been the target of more than 60 indecency complaints filed with the FCC throughout the past five years, all by David Edward Smith, a conservative activist and former aide to Alderman Virginia Rugai.

The FCC had only acted on a fraction of those complaints, with Emmis racking up $42,000 in indecency fines that would have undoubtedly snowballed as the agency reviewed all the complaints in detail.

Suit dropped

Last week Muller dropped a $3 million lawsuit against Smith, which he had filed in March. The suit claimed the series of complaints were “spurious and unfounded” and constituted harassment.

Muller dropped the suit amid contract negotiations with the local Chicago station owned by Emmis.

Earlier this year, Emmis announced a “zero-tolerance” policy toward indecent broadcasts.

The FCC agreed to the consent decree with four commissioners voting in favor of settling the complaints against Emmis. Democratic FCC Commissioner Michael Copps declined to vote in favor of the decision, and instead issued a concurring statement.

Commenting on the decree, Copps said he is gratified that the agency has started taking citizen complaints seriously by investigating them. But, he said, he was troubled about the decision’s impact on the FCC’s license renewal process.

“The totality of a broadcasters’ record is pertinent and should be considered when licenses are renewed,” he wrote. “Today’s decision takes an entire part of the record off the table.”

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