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New Indecency Fines Take Effect Thursday

If all goes as the White House has planned, at 11 a.m. Thursday morning, with the stroke of President George W.Bush's pen, braodcasters will face a 10-times higher fine for indecency violations.

That's when he is slated to sign the Broadcast Indecency Enforcement Act in a White House ceremony, according to his schedule released late Wednesday night.

The stripped-down bill, which simply raises the fines, got a quick trip through Congress as the midterm election approached after a slow one over the past two-and-a-half years. The so-called Brownback bill, after Senator and presidential hopeful Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), who pushed through the Senate version, boosts the maximum fines to $325,000 from the current $32,500.
But the bill is essentially identical to one first introduced by Rep.Fred Upton (R-Mich.), chairman of the House Telecommunications Subcommittee.
Broadcasters have challenged some of the FCC's latest fines in court, though the net effect of the hearings and publicity surrounding the bill's two-year trek has been sel-regulation, including the firing of shock jocks and the editing of content.