Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kansas, isn't buying Viacom president and chief operating officer Mel Karmazin's contention that the Feb. 24 broadcast of "The Howard Stern Show" doesn't run afoul of the nation'
WASHINGTON--Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kansas, isn't buying Viacom president and chief operating officer Mel Karmazin's contention that the Feb. 24 broadcast of "The Howard Stern Show" doesn't run afoul of the nation's indecency regulations.
Brownback feels that Karmazin's defense of Stern is less than what the lawmaker had hoped, says a spokesman for the senator.
"Sen. Brownback was pleased to get a response from Viacom, but felt his question has not been adequately answered," says Brian Hart, Brownback's communications director. "Sen. Brownback feels the tone of the response, as well as Mr. Karmazin's testimony before the House Commerce Committee, seems like 'business as usual' instead of progressing toward upholding existing FCC regulations and working toward cleaning up our public airwaves."
Hart says his boss is drafting a follow-up letter that will include specific on-air references in hopes that Karmazin will explain how this material is not indecent under their own guidelines. Karmazin recently set a "zero-tolerance" policy for on-air indecency.
In his letter, Karmazin complained that the FCC's indecency standard is too broad and vague for broadcasters to make a decision about what should and what should not be on the air.
"While I understand that there were some sexual references in the interview, I have been advised that our editors made the good faith judgment that the references which aired were not graphic, patently offensive descriptions of sexual activity," Karmazin wrote.
Brownback, a leading Senate media critic, is the author of legislation that seeks to raise fines for indecent broadcasts for companies and individuals to $500,000. Similar legislation has already been approved by the full House.
Brooks Boliek writes for Billboard sister publication The Hollywood Reporter.