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FCC slaps, strokes Infinity

The Federal Communications Commission has voted 2-1 to approve the $ 110 million sale of KRTH-FM Los Angeles to Infinity Broadcasting, but the FCC has slapped an additional $ 400,000 fine on Infinity for airing allegedly indecent remarks by shock jock Howard Stern.

Announcement of the station sale approval and fine could come today, say FCC sources.

Commissioners Ervin Duggan and Andrew Barrett voted to approve the sale, while commissioner James Quello dissented.

FCC chairman Reed Hundt recused himself from voting because his former law firm represents KRTH.

The FCC has held up approval of the station sale for months. Sources said Quello voted against approving the sale on grounds that such action would appear to signal the FCC was condoning Stern’s allegedly indecent broadcasts. Barrett and Duggan, however, backed the transaction on the belief that the FCC had no legal standing to block the sale.

The $ 400,000 fine brings to more than $ 1.6 million the amount in fines levied by the FCC against Infinity in recent years. Infinity has ignored the fines, however, choosing instead to test its First Amendment rights in court. The case may eventually end up in the U.S. Supreme Court.

The fine against Infinity is expected to be accompanied by another fine against a Las Vegas station that carries Stern’s program on simulcast, sources said.

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