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Miller Takes Aim at Indecency

Sen. Zell Miller (D-Ga.) wants to charge broadcasters 25 cents per viewer for indecency violations. He has introduced a bill that would do just that, called the "Broadcast Decency Responsibility and Enforcement Act of 2004."

"This is a tough bill," said Miller. "It is not a little Red Ryder BB gun like most of the proposals I’ve seen. It is a double-barreled shotgun loaded with buckshot that will hit all those involved when the trigger is pulled. Oh, many will yell. The hit dog always hollers. But if they don’t plan on violating it, they should not fear. It’s only directed towards offenders."

For instance, under Miller’s bill, the Janet Jackson exposure, if indecent, would have cost "Viacom, CBS and the offending artists" $35 million (140 million viewers times 25 cents). A House bill would raise fines to $275,000 per violation, but Miller calls that a "slap on the wrist" for big broadcasters and possible bankruptcy for small ones, which is why he would scale the fine to viewership.

Several members of the House Telecommunications Subcommittee now considering the "slap on the wrist bill," have also suggested scaling those fines to audience size or revenue.

The Miller bill would also establish a Council of Decency consisting of three ministers, three teachers and three media representatives to advise the FCC on standards of decency.