Jackson exposure prompts federal re-evaluation of decency standards

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    By Scott Johnson

    Janet Jackson”s exposure to nearly 90 million viewers on Super Bowl Sunday motivated federal regulators to re-examine decency standards Wednesday, Feb. 11, before Congress.

    Michael Powell, Federal Communications Committee chairman, called for harsher action against television networks and cable stations that violate industry standards. Powell told Congress more than 200,000 concerned Americans filed complaints with the FCC on the Super Bowl incident alone.

    “Action must be taken by the entire television and radio industry to heed the public”s outcry and take affirmative steps to curb the race to the bottom,” Powell said. “This industry simply must help clean up its own room.”

    Powell and four FCC commissioners spoke to Congress about increasing fines against media violators.

    “The now infamous display during the Super Bowl halftime show, which represented a new low in prime-time television, is just the latest example in a growing list of deplorable incidents over the nation”s airwaves,” Powell told the Senate Commerce Committee.

    Powell stated the FCC will increase fines and will begin license revocation proceedings for those in the industry who continue to disregard decency laws.

    Powell said that everyone must get involved to curb the current erosion of standards on television.

    “Protecting children and giving parents the tools to restrict inappropriate programming from unexpectedly invading our family rooms requires action on all fronts,” he said.

    The FCC plans to pursue indecent programming on television more aggressively to protect children. The FCC has already taken action – last month in San Francisco the committee fined a station the maximum penalty for indecent exposure.

    “The time has come for us to work collectively – the Commission, the Congress, the industry and the public to take the necessary steps to prevent allowing the worst that television has to offer from reaching our unsuspecting children,” Powell said.

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