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Clear Channel, KRON-TV Hit with Indecency Fines

There was a flurry of news on the indecency front Tuesday on the eve of a congressional hearing titled, "Can You Say That on TV?"

Clear Channel, for one, wanted to clarify what can be said on radio and TV, both cable and broadcast.

In the wake of a $755,000 fine levied yesterday against several of its stations and on the eve of the indecency hearing and an FCC field hearing in its backyard, Clear Channel has asked the FCC to convene an industry-wide task force to develop indecency guidelines for "all media platforms that distribute content into people’s homes."

The FCC was billing yesterday’s Clear Channel fine-the $27,500 maximum times 26 instances plus an extra $40,000 for some reporting omissions-as its highest ever against a licensee.

The fine was levied for various routines on the Bubba the Love Sponge program, including a parody of cartoon characters talking about sex and a breast implant surgery contest.

The FCC also fined Young Broadcasting’s KRON-TV San Francisco $27,500 for a local morning show interview with stage troupe Puppetry of the Penis during which one of the "puppets" was inadvertantly exposed.

Although the FCC conceded it was fleeting-less than a second-it also said it was "graphic and explicit," that it was "intended to pander to, titillate and shock viewers," and that the station had failed to take adequate precautions.

KRON-TV General Manager Dino Dinovitz said yesterday that the station was sorry, that it has now taken steps to prevent a repeat performance, and that "we intend to pay the fine."

Clear Channel had no comment on the fine beyond its call for an indecency task force. A source said the company had yet to examine all the alleged sanctions "and determine their validity."

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.