Fleeting-Profanities Bill Unlikely to See Senate Floor Vote

Don't look for a Senate floor vote on the fleeting-profanities bill. It was always a long shot, but it at least had a shot at all after it was finally sent out of committee last week. That teed it up for a vote, but a Democratic source said it is not on the calendar for a vote before the legislators head off for their holiday break.

The bill, the Protecting Children from Indecency Programming Act (S. 1780), was introduced by Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W. Va.) after a Federal Appeals Court found that the Federal Communications Commission had not justified its decision to crack down on fleeting profanities, specifically in a case involving swearing by Cher and Nicole Ritchie on a Fox awards-show broadcast. The FCC appealed that decision to the Supreme Court, arguing that it did, too, justify it.

The bill passed in the Senate Commerce Committee months ago but never got a floor vote. It was reported back to the Senate last week -- a procedure that signals that the committee is seeking a floor vote, although the majority leader controls the calendar.

Senate Commerce Committee co-chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) has "urged the Senate to take up this important legislation," but a staffer conceded that the Senate "has a full plate."

John Eggerton

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.