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Friday, January 27, 2006

Broadcast Decency Enforcement Act--Take Action Here

On February 1, 2004 Janet Jackson exposed herself on national television during Superbowl XXXVIII. The event highlighted the downward and accelerating spiral of indecency on our public airwaves. Thousands of people called for a crackdown on broadcast indecency. The public outcry helped to pass the Broadcast Decency Enforcement Act overwhelmingly. This Act would increase fines levied by the FCC to make them economically significant, not the slap on the wrist they are today.

On February 16, 2005, this Act was reintroduced as H.R.310 and it once again sailed through the House, 389-38. Since then Ted Stevens (R-AK), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, has held three sets of hearings on featuring broadcast companies opposed to realistic fines. Family and consumer groups have been shortchanged in these hearings. These hearings have resulted in no action, just another chorus of "It's not my fault; it's the parents' fault for not monitoring what's on our shows."

Chairman Stevens makes the ludicrous claim that this legislation does not have the support of the Senate, despite the fact that a similar bill passed last time by a vote of 99-1. The public is demanding realistic penalties for indecency violations and the FCC has the authority to issue them -- the only hindrance here is the Senate.

H.R. 310, sponsored by Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), has languished in the Senate for a full year. Chairman Stevens has admitted the House legislation does not have to go through his committee, but he has stopped efforts for a full Senate vote. This bill would raise the fine for indecency from $32,500 to $500,000 per incident -- and, more importantly, make the possibility of license revocation a reality for violators.

Broadcast indecency is already against the law; the real issue is strengthening enforcement. It's time to tell the Senate that action on H.R. 310 is essential.

Please sign this petition to Senator Stevens to ask him to support efforts to bring H.R. 310, the Broadcast Decency Enforcement Act, to a swift vote before the full Senate. Let's pass this law before Superbowl XL.

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