The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Thursday, June 10, 2004

The Comstock Moment may have passed: Gray Lady

The fate of HR 3717 and S 2056 as they slowly sank into the legislative sand has been much discussed here (the bill numbers are handily searchable!); now the New York Times' Jacques Steinberg (June 7) comes along to read the last rites.

Cutting to the chase, the best hope of increasing the limit on indecency fines this Congress is probably the addition of a simple rider to some other bill.

And the FCC has turned up the heat in enforcing the existing law: yesterday, a consent decree (PDF) in the Clear Channel indecency case was issued, involving a payment by Clear Channel of $1.75 million and the adoption of a Compliance Plan on obscenity and indecency [1], in exchange for the FCC wiping the slate clean.

Comstock fire-eater extraordinaire, Commissioner Michael Copps, is more sour than incandescent: the scope of the decree is too broad, the totality of the offences which it covers unknown. And he mentions the Infinity consent decree of 1995 as an ill omen - Howard Stern got away with blue murder - in Copps terms - for a long while after.

And - support your chins now - he has a topical word:
I hope my colleagues will accord prompt and vigorous attention to any future listener complaints against Clear Channel. Perhaps the company will be so vigilant that there will be none. In the meantime, I am reminded that President Reagan, whose passing America mourns this week, admonished us "to trust but verify." His statement was made in a foreign policy context, but I think it is equally applicable here.

Copps, if reminder be needed, was enthroned as Commissioner as being a Democrat.

He failed wholly to take fellow-Comstock Adelstein with him (in my April 14 piece on the Bono decision, he came across as something of a Copps follower).

As for 'Sonny Boy' Powell, he bleats about the First Amendment but mostly seems relieved at there being one case fewer on the docket. Perhaps there's an element of anticipatory demob-happiness at the prospect of sharing a cab with Daddy Powell getting the hell out of the Bush circus shortly after November 2...

  1. No mention of profanity - also outlawed by 18 USC 1464, and brought back from the dead by the FCC in the Bono Golden Globes case - much discussed here.

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