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Senate Committee OKs FCC Oversight of "Fleeting Profanities"

The Senate Commerce Committe approved a bill last Thursday that would give the commission the authority to regulate “fleeting profanities.”

The bill, sponsored by Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), is intended to reverse a recent federal appeals court ruling that challenged the FCC's indecency regime.

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last month that the FCC had not justified why it had changed long-standing policy in ruling that a fleeting profanity was indecent. The ruling was a victory for broadcasters, who had challenged the commission's March 2006 indecency fines.

Rockefeller has long been critical of broadcasters on the issue of indecency. His Protecting Children From Indecent Programming Act would “require the FCC, in enforcing its regulations concerning the broadcast of indecent programming, to maintain a policy that a single word or image may be considered indecent.”

In a statement Thursday, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin praised the vote, which he said “affirmed the commission's ability to protect our children from indecent language and images on television and radio. Significantly, members of Congress stated once again what we on the commission and every parent already knows; even a single word or image can indeed be indecent.”