Hoeksta Votes For Higher FCC Fines

March 12, 2004
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WASHINGTON, D.C. — Congressman Peter Hoekstra, R-Holland, yesterday joined ranks with those who think that the penalties for broadcasting indecency should sting.

He was one of 392 members of the U.S. House of Representatives who voted to approve a radical increase in the maximum penalty for broadcasters that transmit obscene, indecent or profane material.

Twenty-two Congressmen voted against the bill to increase the maximum fine against broadcasters from $27,000 to $500,000.

The measure also allows the Federal Communications Commission to levy fines of $500,000 against networks and performers who willfully violate decency standards.

The Senate has yet to take up the measure. President Bush has indicated it would sign the bill.

“The American public has made it clear that it has had enough,” said Hoekstra regarding widespread expressions of outrage in the wake of a Super Bowl half-time surprise by Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake.

Hoekstra stressed that the bill does not alter the FCC definitions of obscenity, indecency or profanity under which broadcasters have operated for some years.

But he said the $500,000 maximum penalty “authorized in this bill will give the Federal Communications Commission the teeth it needs to enforce decency standards.”

The current $27,000 fine is regarded as almost meaningless when levied against star-level entertainers or major broadcast corporations.

“This sends the clear message to broadcasters that they must follow FCC standards,” Hoekstra said.

“Broadcast airwaves are owned by the American public, and the FCC is responsible for ensuring that the television and radio content transmitted on these airwaves is free of indecent and inappropriate material.”

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