The Senate Commerce Committee today (March 9) passed legislation that would give the Federal Communications Commission authority to fine recording artists or other figures up to $500,000 for knowingly

The Senate Commerce Committee today (March 9) passed legislation that would give the Federal Communications Commission authority to fine recording artists or other figures up to $500,000 for knowingly uttering indecent language on radio or TV.

The amendment to bill S. 2056, which boosts fines against broadcast stations that air indecent material, was authored by Sens. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, and George Allen, R-Va. It would allow the FCC to go after "non-licensee persons," which could also include actors, sports figures, radio talent and call-in audience members.

The provision was not included in the original bill. A similar amendment allowing the FCC to go after performers was included in the House version, passed March 3 by the House Commerce Committee.

"The intent of the bill is not to chill speech," says a Commerce Committee spokesperson. "Artists who push the envelope are going to have to rethink what they do."

The American Federation of Radio & Television Artists and the Recording Artists Coalition tell Billboard.biz they intend to fight the bill.