Clear Channel Dumps Howard Stern After Proposed Fine

Discussion in 'Current Events' started by MacNut, Apr 9, 2004.

  1. macrumors Core

    MacNut

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    #1
    Clear Channel Dumps Howard Stern After Proposed Fine
    Federal Regulators Seek $495,000 Penalty for On-Air Indecency
    By JONATHAN D. SALANT, AP


    WASHINGTON (April 8) - The nation's largest radio chain dropped the country's best-known shock jock Thursday after federal regulators proposed fining it $495,000 for sexually explicit material on the Howard Stern show.
    Reuters file

    As part of its stepped-up enforcement of indecency regulations, a unanimous Federal Communications Commission fined Clear Channel Communications the maximum $27,500 for each of 18 alleged violations. Regulators departed from their norm by citing Clear Channel for multiple violations in a single broadcast rather than simply issuing a single fine for an entire show.

    John Hogan, president of Clear Channel Radio, said the government's crackdown on indecency has gotten his company's attention.

    ''Mr. Stern's show has created a great liability for us and other broadcasters who air it,'' said Hogan, who suspended Stern in February from the six Clear Channel stations that carried him. ''The Congress and the FCC are even beginning to look at revoking station licenses. That's a risk we're just not willing to take.''

    Clear Channel has 30 days to contest the fine. The company last month agreed to pay a record $755,000 indecency fine for broadcasts by the disc jockey known as ''Bubba the Love Sponge,'' who was fired.

    In a statement posted on his Web site, Stern characterized the fine as furtherance of a ''witch hunt'' against him by the Bush administration, which he says is punishing him for his criticism of the president.
    Talk About It

    ''It is pretty shocking that governmental interference into our rights and free speech takes place in the U.S.,'' he said. ''It's hard to reconcile this with the 'land of the free' and the 'home of the brave.'''

    Stern's nationally syndicated show features graphic sexual discussion and humor. It appears on more than 30 stations - most of them owned by Viacom Inc.'s Infinity Broadcasting unit - and draws millions of die-hard listeners.

    Infinity spokesman Dana McClintock said the company has no plans to take any action against Stern.

    Last month, the FCC proposed fining Infinity $27,500 for a Stern show broadcast July 26, 2001, on WKRK-FM in Detroit. Infinity paid $1.7 million in 1995 to settle various violations by Stern.

    The Center for Public Integrity, a watchdog group, said fines against Stern accounted for almost half of the $4 million in penalties proposed by the FCC since 1990.
    "You've got to vote Bush out to send a message as a Howard Stern fan. There's a cultural war going on. The religious right is winning. We're losing."
    -Howard Stern

    Critics who bemoan a growing coarseness of the public airwaves say the FCC and Congress need to dramatically increase fines and enforcement to ensure major broadcasting companies don't see occasional fines as simply a cost of doing business.

    The House has voted to raise the maximum fine to $500,000 and to require the FCC to consider revoking a broadcast license after three indecency violations. Similar legislation is pending in the Senate.

    ''A $27,500 fine to a company that does $27 billion worth of business is less than a mosquito on a windshield,'' said L. Brent Bozell III, president of the Parents Television Council, a conservative advocacy group. ''It is just so insignificant as to be laughable.''

    Federal law bars radio stations and over-the-air television channels from airing references to sexual and excretory functions between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m., when children may be tuning in. The rules do not apply to cable and satellite channels or satellite radio.

    A listener complained about Stern's April 9, 2003, show on a Fort Lauderdale, Fla., station. The show contained discussions about sex accompanied by flatulence sounds. The FCC action came at the end of the one-year deadline for it to act.

    Previously, when the commission has fined broadcasters it has been for the contents of an entire show. And it normally only levied the penalty against stations mentioned in a complaint.

    In this case, though the complaint only involved the Fort Lauderdale station, the commission determined there were three indecency violations during the program and fined Clear Channel for all six of its stations that aired the show for a total of 18 citations.

    ''Today's decision is a step forward toward imposing meaningful fines,'' Commissioner Michael Copps said.

    Though the commission received no complaints from listeners to Infinity stations, it is looking into fining that company, too.

    AP-NY-04-08-04 2342EDT
     
  2. macrumors 603

    rainman::|:|

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    #2
    well, stern predicted that he'd be killed off when the FCC leveled a huge fine on him, and so far it's panning out. I support him and his libertarian views, and hope this doesn't end up ending his career. Personally I find the show to be boring and coarse, so I don't listen to it. But there's absolutely no reason the government should be telling me that i can't.

    paul
     
  3. macrumors 6502a

    IndyGopher

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    #3
    The government is not telling you that you can't listen, they are telling radio stations that they can't air it between 6am and 10pm. If Stern's following is as big as he claims it is, and I suspect it probably is, then he could move to an XM station and be done with it.
    Howard Stern has toyed with the FCC his entire career. It is, in fact, pretty much his career. He gets offensive, they get incensed, he gets publicity, and it snowballs again. I don't think he's a stupid man, he knows what he is doing, and that in the past it has worked. As the article states, the old maximum for fines was a joke. Each round of national, mainstream coverage of one of his suspensions/fines would bring in more than enough fresh money and fresh ears to make it worth it. Now it won't, and as a business decision, he's being dropped by companies that will have to pay these new fines.

    That said, I think the FCC is unreasonable in the way it hands out these fines. Apparently it doesn't give any real guidelines to broadcasters, it makes some vague suggestions and then waits for someone to complain. In effect, this is telling people to use their judgement as to what is offensive, and not air that. Then it tells people they were wrong about what was offensive and fines them. To me, the easy test is would you be comfortable with your 10 year old child tuning into a program on their way to school. If you are, then would you be comfortable with your 90 year old grandmother tuning into the same program on her way to Bingo. I like to think that most people have a good enough grasp on what is objectionable for those two guidelines to work fairly well. Now, if grandma wants to listen to gangster rap, or Howard Stern, or tape recordings of phone sex, that is fine, but if she hits the wrong button on the radio and hears it unintentionally I think we have a problem.
     
  4. macrumors 6502

    davecuse

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    #4
    What grandmother doesn't love gangster rap? I've always thought that the idea of switching through the "oldies" stations in 20 years and hearing gangster rap is a pretty funny concept.

    Back on track... I think the fines against Howard Stern are pretty absurb, if I remember correctly it was Thomas Jefferson who said "I may not agree with what you have to say, but I will defend your right to it to my death." We get enough homogonized content from the mainstream media, I'm very let down by the FCC fines in regards to decency. What comes next? Sorry Chris Matthews, you're a little too left wing, pay me. Al Franken, you disagree with Fox News, eff you, pay me.

    If the FCC is going to monitor something in the media why don't they move away from indecency and focus on the facts. Make some rules to prevent media spin, and political character assisination should be a federal offense.

    I think that religion plays way too large a role in government, seperation of church and state is supposed to be the fundamental groundwork of this country. I think that our government has gotten so wrapped up in the individual words of our founding fathers that it fails to see the big picture on many issues.

    In closing, don't tell me that I can't listen to Howard Stern when you didn't have the foresight to prevent Vietnam II, or the intelligence to realize that the current tax code rewards outsourcing my job. And in the area of tax codes, you want a really simple way to stop tax shelters? Use a flat tax, across the board, and you would never have to have a court case about this issue again. Get a clue!
     
  5. macrumors G3

    Chip NoVaMac

    Joined:
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    Northern Virginia
    #5
    Very good thoughts there.

    As liberal as I like to think myself; I am bothered by what is on the airwaves (both radio and TV). I do believe some issues that we have in the society at large is due to the sexual messages that reach us. I am not sure that I would go as far as my Uncle, who almost broke his ankle when Elvis did his Hawaii TV special back in the 60's or 70s'. They opened the show with hula dancers zooming in on their navels. But saw a commercial the other night for a birth control pill that used imagery of a girl on several "loser" dates. I realize that sex outside of marriage is pretty normal, but should not be part of what is placed on the public airwaves.

    It has been said that it takes a village to raise a child. And the airwaves are part of that village. And as part of that village they should act responsibly, and not just for profits.
     
  6. macrumors G3

    Chip NoVaMac

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    #6
    I hope not....

    I doubt that Jefferson ever would approve of Stern's antics. He would defend Matthew's right there since he does not use vulgar language.

    You may not agree with his or others views, but there lines of decency and with Stern he crosses those readily.

    To follow your logic we should allow hard core porn 24-7 on ABC or NBC.

    While some of the feelings on decency are religious based, and some of the complaints from religious organizations, the airwaves are public and are held to a different standard.

    I have no problem with Stern saying and doing what he wants as long as he does not use the public airwaves to do it. As someone else said there is XM radio, and I'll add there is web streaming.

    And i would say don't let Stern "pollute" the public airwaves with is tripe. Freedom of speech was meant more for prevent another Vietnam and discussion of outsourcing of your job. Not for the trash that Stern spews forth.

    Maybe Stern lovers need to get a clue.
     
  7. macrumors 6502

    davecuse

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    #7
    I see where you are coming from, XM under current laws would definitely be a suitable medium for Howard Stern. The point I am trying to make is that maybe current laws are not suitable, maybe the people we elect to office are doing no more than winning a popularity contest, and maybe just maybe they don't know best.

    I would like to see the FCC take the focus off of censoring what we see and hear for what they believe to be non-offensive. There are obviously people in our country who are not offended by Howard Stern. I personally am offended by the fact that people idolize actors so much. The MTV show, I want a famous face, is like watching a real world version of the twilight zone. Does that mean that MTV should be fined a half a million dollars?
     
  8. macrumors G3

    Chip NoVaMac

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    #8
    Big difference is that MTV is not using the public airwaves...
     
  9. macrumors 68020

    Thomas Veil

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    #9
    I'm not really crying any crocodile tears for Stern. I too believe that his act belongs to the late night hours or to subscription services. That he got away with it for so many years, in the morning hours on broadcast radio, is not something anyone should be proud of.

    I don't have anything against Stern and I'm generally quite liberal in my beliefs, but there's a time and place for everything, and for shock jock radio, broadcast daytime ain't it.
     
  10. macrumors 6502a

    Krizoitz

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    #10
    Here here. No one is stopping him from expressing his views, just not on the public airwaves during the day.
     
  11. macrumors 68000

    Lyle

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    #11
    This claim might be a little more believable if Howard Stern didn't have such a long a glorious history of being fined by the FCC. According to this article, half of the fines proposed by the FCC since 1990 have been for Howard Stern's show, and many of those incidents occurred long before the current administration came into office.
     
  12. thread starter macrumors Core

    MacNut

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    #12
    Isnt MTV using public airways? I thought anything that is over the air or has the ability to be reached by anyone with the proper equipment is considered public? MTV certainly isnt broadcasting for private use only.
     
  13. thread starter macrumors Core

    MacNut

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    #13
    The fact is that MTV caters more to a child audience on purpose with more sexually objective content at 3pm than Stern subjects to an audience not meant for children at 6am.
     
  14. macrumors 6502a

    Thanatoast

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    Denver
    #14
    there is no right to not be offended. if you don't like what stern says, change the channel. so he's offensive, so what? no one's holding a gun to your head. this is simply a case of people not taking responsibility for their own lives. they want to government to protect them from dirty thoughts. :\
     
  15. macrumors 65816

    oldschool

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    #15
    stern isn't SHOWING he's telling. It's just words. Hardcore porn is not freedom of speech.
     
  16. thread starter macrumors Core

    MacNut

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    #16
    Porn is protected by the first amendment, case in point Larry Flint
     
  17. macrumors 68040

    Koodauw

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    #17
    FCC v. Pacifica

    The supreme court has ruled on this issue before. In a 5-4 decision in The FCC v. Pacifica, The court ruled that the FCC can "regulate a radio broadcast that is indecent but not obscene." and that material that is " 'Vulgar,' 'Offensive' and 'shocking' ...is not entitled to absolute constitutional protection under all circumstances,"

    Not all forms of speech are protected.
     
  18. macrumors 65816

    oldschool

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    #18
    i stand corrected......granted i'm not american


    however i don't think that what stern is doing is as bad as showing hardcore porn on the tv. he's speaking about certain topics without ever using the seven dirty words, he's on a 2 minute delay, and the topics he does discuss arent much worse than those discussed by the so called radio "sex therapists".
     
  19. thread starter macrumors Core

    MacNut

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    #19
    Ok so what counts as indecent vulgar offensive or shocking? I would say Al Frankin is offensive to me so does that mean he should be fined. Others may see Oprah as Shocking so should she be fined. And dont forget Jerry Springer, he is vilgar offensive shocking and indecent.
     
  20. macrumors 601

    Backtothemac

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    #20
    Well, I personally think that Stern is pushing the envelope with his own agenda. Hell half of the fines levied by the FCC since 1990 were against him. So, was Clinton waging a war against Stern as well? He is a has been that is over, thank God.

    Personally, I am sick of him, and his potty humor. It is just plain stupid to have im on the airwaves. He should be on cable, or XM.
     
  21. thread starter macrumors Core

    MacNut

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    #21
    Time out
    Just because you don't like Stern that is your right just as much as it is my right to want to listen to him. The stuff that is going on in Iraq is far greater than what stern is talking about yet we are fighting over there and showing the carnage on the news for all of americas children to see. So what is worse Stern talking about sex or seeing our Solders getting killed day after day and having the news propaganda showing that every day.
     
  22. macrumors 68040

    Koodauw

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    #22
    The FCC holds to power to determen what is offensive and what is not, and levies the fines accordingly. The high courts have ruled that this is legal. They also ruled that "obsense" material can be limited in its distribution.

    Again, not all forms of speech are protected.
     
  23. macrumors 6502

    FriarTuck

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    #23
    I don't care for Stern. I think he provides a constant stream of material toxic to good character and a noble society.

    At the same time, it is patently unfair for the government to punish people for behavior it refuses to adequately define with anything approaching a bright line.
     
  24. macrumors 68040

    Koodauw

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    #24
    Who says that it refuses to define what what approaches that line? I am sure FCC website or trip to the library can provide you with the full rules and regulations of the FCC.
     
  25. macrumors P6

    wdlove

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    #25
    Howard Stern isn't the real goal of this process. The end game is to remove conservative talk radio shows from the air. The elites prefer to have no voice but theirs discussed.
     

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