October 3, 2003

MIM commends FCC for $375,000 indecency fine against Infinity Broadcasting for airing ‘Opie & Anthony Show’


NEW YORK (3 October 2003) – Robert W. Peters, President of Morality in Media, had the following comments on the fine levied yesterday by the Federal Communications Commission on Infinity Broadcasting for broadcasting indecent material on the “Opie and Anthony Show.”

“The fine of $357,500 imposed on Infinity Broadcasting is, to our knowledge, the first time that the FCC has punished all of the stations that carried a broadcast of indecent material.  In the past, the Commission imposed a fine on one or perhaps two stations that aired indecent programming, leaving other stations that carried the programming untouched.  This time, the FCC punished all 13 Infinity stations, an action that is a significant step in the right direction.

“We also note Commissioner Michael Copps’s stinging dissent against the action.   He  argued that all of the Infinity Broadcasting FCC licenses in the proceeding should have been designated for a license revocation hearing.   There is a large measure of merit in Commissioner Copps’s argument, and, in a better world, such an action would have been taken.

“Had the FCC been doing its job all along, vigorously enforcing the broadcast indecency law, it presumably would have built up a record of violations—a ‘rap sheet,’ if you will—against each station carrying ‘Opie and Anthony.‘  But without a ‘rap sheet,’ it is questionable whether our almost-anything-goes-when-it-comes-to-smut Supreme Court would uphold a revocation.

“All the same, we are gladdened that the Commission is now willing to punish each station that carries an offending broadcast.  Hopefully, this is the start of a new era at the FCC, when broadcasters—and, in particular, broadcasters who air programming on a national or regional network of stations —will no longer be able to count on sporadic and small-in-amount indecency fines as a readily affordable cost of doing business.

“Not only Infinity Broadcasting but other keepers of radio shock jocks would also do well to heed the Commission’s further warning,  ‘We reiterate our recent statement that “additional serious violations by Infinity may well lead to a licensing revocation proceeding.”” Author: MIM   10/03/2003

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