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Old February 22nd 05, 04:35 AM
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Default Thats decent?

The US House of Representatives in America more than interestingly
passed a bill on Wednesday which will certainly make broadcasters in
America take note.

The bill, if approved by the Senate and then the President, will impose
unprecedented fines on those broadcasting material that could be
described as indecent.

The bill has been criticised as stifling free speech.

But the supporters of it are saying that stiff fines are needed to give
deep-pocketed broadcasters more incentive to clean up their programmes
and to help assure parents that their children won't be exposed to
inappropriate material.

The measure was passed 389 to 98.

Perhaps that's why we haven't read about it.

The maximum fine will rise from 32,500 dollars to half a million for a
company, and from 11,000 to half a million for an individual

The Republican from Texas who sent the bill to the house said "This is
a penalty that makes broadcasters sit up and take notice ... this
legislation makes great strides in making it safe for families to come
back into their living room."

The White House said it strongly supported the legislation that "will
make broadcast television and radio more suitable for family viewing".

Now the Senate is considering a similar bill.

It's said that when the differences are worked out, it will all go to
President Bush for signature.

Opponents of the legislation say that they are unclear about the
definition of "indecent".

Mention was made of Saving Private Ryan, the World War II drama, which
several ABC affiliates in America last year did not air because of
worries that violence and profanity would lead to fines.

I should say there are already mechanisms in America to fine people for
a breach of broadcasting standards.

The Federal Communications Commission already has wide latitude to
impose fines.

It can fine an individual company, a group of stations, an individual

Apparently last year fines totalled over 7 million dollars.

But all five members of the Federal Communications Commission, three
Republicans and two Democrats, are in favour of greatly increasing the

And this legislation allows the Commission to fine someone like, for
example, a disc jockey, without first issuing a warning.

Now I'm sure there are many Australians who feel that we've got
something to learn from this legislation.

Already under American law radio stations and television channels can't
air obscene material at any time.

And can't air indecent material between 6am and 10pm.

The Senate bill varies from the House of Representatives bill by
seeking to raise the maximum fine on broadcasters to 325,000 dollars
with a cap of 3 million dollars a day.

Now people watching/listening to us often wonder how violence in
language and action, physical, verbal and sexual, can parade at any
time as entertainment.

And certainly is allowed under the umbrella of free speech.

The legislation seems to be telling people like us to tidy up our act.

Many who watch television and listen to radio would argue that the call
is long overdue.

Alan Jones

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