Skip to comments.Senior Democrat pushes expansion on indecency bill (Rockefeller & Hutchinson want cable covered)
Posted on 03/01/2006 10:51:59 AM PST by weegee
WASHINGTON (Hollywood Reporter) - A senior Democratic senator plans to force a series of votes on indecency legislation when the Senate Commerce Committee takes up a broad-based telecommunications reform bill in the spring, an aide said Monday.
Sens. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., and Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, have introduced legislation that seeks to expand indecency regulations to cable and satellite TV providers, include violent content under the same regulations as indecent content and codify the current children's television rules.
"Sen. Rockefeller plans to offer his bill, in totality, or section-by-section, as amendments to the telecom bill as this goes forward," James Reid, the senator's telecommunications policy aide, told a National Assn. of Broadcasters conference.
Hutchison was taking a wait-and-see position.
"We're just going to wait for the markup," Hutchison spokesman Chris Paulitz said.
Reid said his boss wanted to get an on-the-record vote on the legislation this year. It was unclear if Hutchison also would attempt to force the senators to have a recorded vote on those issues.
Industry executives and some Senate staffers questioned Rockefeller's commitment to push the issue.
"It's no secret that he is pissed at Sen. (Ted) Stevens (R-Alaska) because Stevens hasn't given him what he wants on the issue," said one aide, referring to the chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee.
Industry executives think the effort is unlikely to gain any traction, even if Rockefeller forces a vote on the issue.
"There's no way that's going anywhere," one broadcast industry lobbyist said.
After a series of hearings, Stevens has decided to let the issue sit for a while until after an industry-wide PR effort aimed at educating consumers about their options to block programming has had time to work.
Legislation increasing the fines for indecent speech broadcast over-the-air has been languishing in the Senate. The House already approved its version of the legislation that would raise the fine from $32,500 to $500,000 for a company and from $11,000 to $500,000 for an individual entertainer. The bill also removes an FCC provision that gave individuals a warning before issuing a fine.
As defined by the FCC and the courts, material is indecent if it "in context, depicts or describes sexual or excretory activities or organs in a patently offensive manner as measured by contemporary community standards for the broadcast medium."
While obscene speech has no constitutional protection, indecent speech does. It can be aired between 10 p.m.-6 a.m. -- when few children are in the audience.
The FCC is expected to announce soon its decision to stick by its ruling to slap CBS with a $550,000 fine for the Janet Jackson "wardrobe malfunction" during the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show.
CBS had appealed the FCC's fine against 20 of its stations for Jackson's brief breast exposure during the Super Bowl halftime show two years ago, but the agency is expected to affirm the decision.
The agency also could propose new sanctions against Fox, NBC and CBS TV stations or affiliates for violating decency standards, sources said, with one of the decisions possibly involving an appearance by Nicole Richie on the 2003 Billboard Music Awards on Fox.
Is Rockefeller, that hypocrite, going to return all that Time-Warner PAC money he's received, since T-M's one of the biggest purveyors of sleaze on TV.
Put a treason rider on it, Rocky knows treason/sedition well.
I could think of ten other and more important thing that they could be doing with their time....
Who exactly is he pandering to?
Watch for "and right-wing talk radio" being added in the dead of night....
The Hillary Vote....
You know, the one that thinks that they know better what's good for you and your children.
This bill is pointless. The cable companies will just ramp up going all-digital with session-based encryption and get out from under the FCC entirely.
This is simply a camel's-nose-under-the-tent for later censoring the Web and all email.
The left has been trying to get violent movies banned for a long time. They don't like violent hero movies.