FCC proposes $3.9M in fines

CBS has 30 days to appeal the FCC's proposed fine.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The government is renewing its crackdown on indecent television, proposing a total of $3.9 million in new fines while upholding its $550,000 fine against CBS stations for the Janet Jackson breast exposure at the Super Bowl.
The biggest proposed fine issued Wednesday by the Federal Communications Commission was for $3.6 million -- a record -- against dozens of CBS stations and affiliates. The FCC said an episode of the CBS crime drama "Without a Trace" that aired in December 2004 was indecent, citing the depiction of "teenage boys and girls participating in a sexual orgy."
CBS objected, saying the program "featured an important and socially relevant storyline warning parents to exercise greater supervision of their teenage children."
Appeal could happen
The network can appeal. The company has 30 days to ask the FCC for reconsideration and explain why the 111 CBS stations and affiliates should not be held liable. The maximum indecency fine is $32,500 per incident.
The proposed fine was among a batch of decisions from the agency stemming from more than 300,000 complaints it received concerning nearly 50 TV shows broadcast between 2002 and 2005.
The FCC also affirmed its previous $550,000 fine against 20 of the network's stations for the Janet Jackson "wardrobe malfunction" two years ago -- rejecting an appeal by CBS.
Additional fines totaling about $300,000 were proposed for several other broadcasts, including an episode of "The Surreal Life 2" on The WB and an episode of a Spanish-language talk show, "The Fernando Hidalgo Show," on a Miami station.
These were the first fines issued under FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, clearing a backlog of investigations into indecency complaints.
Responding to other complaints, the commission found that Fox Television Network had violated decency standards during the 2003 Billboard Music Awards. During the broadcast, reality-show star Nicole Richie uttered the "F" word and a common vulgarity for excrement.
But the FCC declined to issue a fine for the program because at the time of the broadcast existing precedent indicated the commission would not take action against isolated use of expletives, the decision said.
Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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