Clear Channel Communications paid the largest-ever single fine for an indecent broadcast last Thursday when it wrote a $755,000 check to the U.S. Treasury for a broadcast of the "Bubba the Love Sponge
WASHINGTON--Clear Channel Communications paid the largest-ever single fine for an indecent broadcast last Thursday when it wrote a $755,000 check to the U.S. Treasury for a broadcast of the "Bubba the Love Sponge."
The Federal Communications Commission had accused CCC of violating the nation's broadcast indecency rules when it aired the show on 26 stations in 2001. The FCC fined Clear Channel $715,000 for violating the indecency regulations and $45,000 for record-keeping violations.
"We fully accept our responsibility for airing inappropriate content, and our company will accept the consequences," said John Hogan, president and CEO of Clear Channel Radio, in a statement.
IMPLICIT ADMISSION OF GUILT
By paying the fine, the company implicitly admits that it is guilty of violating the indecency laws. Clear Channel has been engaged in a high-profile campaign to prove that it is a "corporate good citizen."
The company has already canned Bubba (a.k.a. Todd Clem) and has pulled shock-jock Howard Stern off the six Clear Channel stations that carried his show.
"Our company simply does not want to be associated with indecency," Hogan said. "We know we can deliver great radio without compromising our integrity as broadcasters."
The move comes as the debate over indecency on the airwaves has reached a fever pitch. Last Wednesday, the House Commerce Committee overwhelmingly approved legislation that would increase the maximum fine for an indecent broadcast from $27,500 per incident to $500,000 per incident.
The same legislation would also levy the same fine against individuals who spew smut on the air. Acts like Bubba, the increasing use of expletives on TV and radio and the breast-bearing incident during the Super Bowl halftime show this year have all increased the desire of policy makers to do something to combat what they see as a growing cultural ill.
While Clear Channel's payment is the largest ever made, Infinity Radio, a subsidiary of Viacom, settled an indecency complaint with the government in 1995, paying $1.7 million for several broadcasts of "The Howard Stern Show." In that settlement, the company did not have to admit that the broadcasts were indecent.
Brooks Boliek is a reporter with Billboard sister publication The Hollywood Reporter.