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PTC Pummels Powell On Clear Channel

As promised, the Parents Television Council has officially made its unhappiness with the FCC's Clear Channel indecency settlement known.

In a letter to FCC Chairman Michael Powell, signed on to by several morality watchdog groups, PTC President Brent Bozell asked the commission not to strike a similar deal with Viacom. "Viacom continues to thumb its nose at both the FCC, Congressional leaders and the public by claiming nothing they have aired is indecent," he wrote. "We hope that you will show better judgment by not allowing another poor agreement if Viacom does come to the FCC seeking leniency on its outstanding indecency complaints."

Former Viacom President Mel Karmazin outlined self-regulatory steps to Washington on more than one occasion, but always drew a distinction between what the company had decided was inappropriate content and legal definitions of indecency, which he said was up to Viacom lawyers. Viacom has also stood by Howard Stern, arguing that his show is not indecent. The most prominent complaint--about Janet Jackson's breast--has yet to be resolved.

On the Clear Channel settlement issue, in which the company agreed to pay $1.75 million, the most ever, to settle a raft of indecency complaints, Bozell reiterated the puniness of the fine relative to the company's revenues. "Last year, Clear Channel generated nearly $9 Billion in revenue. A proportional fine for an average American family earning $50,000 per year would be less than ten dollars!"

He also has problems with the idea of settlements in general. "Summarily dismissing the public’s complaints without a hearing as well as dismissing any complaint filed from here on out over programming that aired prior to June 8th once again reflects the FCC’s failure to seriously enforce decency standards," he wrote.