Indecency: Doubts That Dems Will Change Course

Even if the Democrats take control of either chamber on Tuesday, industry lobbyists don’t expect a big change in the climate to curb broadcast indecency.

Consider the most recent votes in the Senate and the House to raise indecency fines tenfold. The former passed it unanimously, and the latter recorded only a handful of nays.

Democrats are not going to stand up on this issue,” says one lobbyist. “There’s no first amendment up there as far as this is concerned. Besides, no one is going to take on Kevin Martin,” the FCC chairman, who has made cracking down on indecent content a priority.

“Indecency is almost a bipartisan issue,” says another industry lobbyist. “The right says it is protecting culture, and the left says it is protecting kids.”

Still, this lobbyist thinks there may be at least one difference on indecency if the Dems take over: “There might not be as much moral indignation about it.”

In his op ed in Friday’s Wall Street Journal, in which he lamented the chilling effect of the indecency debate, NBC Universal CEO Bob Wright touched on one aspect that hasn’t gotten much attention: that current FCC indecency policy effectively promotes a dictatorship of the minority over the majority. In other words, a single complaint can result in a stiff fine, regardless of how many viewers think the material was either indecent or even offensive.—William Triplett in Washington

Addendum: Meanwhile, the FCC on Monday upheld profanity rulings against Fox for the “Billboard Music Awards” but dropped those against CBS’s “The Early Show” and ABC’s “NYPD Blue.”

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