Rep. James Lankford (R-Okla.) introduced and then withdrew an amendment to the Financial Services bill—which includes FCC appropriations—that would have prevented the FCC from changing its indecency enforcement policy to pursue only egregious cases, as it has been informally doing since FCC chairman Julius Genachowski adopted the policy almost two years ago.
The Financial Services bill has played host to numerous amendments unlikely to make it into the final bill, some only making it to the floor before being withdrawn. The exercise gives legislators a chance to make a point in a high-profile setting.
The FCC adopted an "egregious cases only" enforcement standard in fall 2012 under then-chairman Julius Genachowski as a way to work through a million-plus complaint backlog. In April 2013, it put out a notice seeking comment on whether that, or some other approach, should be adopted as standard operating procedure going forward.
Lankford took to the House floor Wednesday to complain that the FCC had cleared out its backlog of indecency complaints by taking that "egregious" case approach, which meant the FCC had "unilaterally decided to leave complaints of incidents where TV content was offensive or inappropriate to be aired at times when children are likely to be in the audience."
He said that, as a result, those concerns were "uninvestigated and uninforced."
While the FCC has not formalized the new "most serious violations" policy, said Lankford, "it is in the public's best interests that they not continue down this road," he said.
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