The Senate Commerce Committee this afternoon marked up the Protecting Children from Indecent Programming Act, (S.1780), introduced last week by West Virginia Democrat Jay Rockefeller and immediately gained important co-sponsorship from leading legislators including Commerce Committee Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-HI), committee vice chairman Ted Stevens (R-AK) and committee member Mark Pryor (D-AR).

The bill now goes on to the full Senate for a vote, then on to the House, and if passed, the new legislation would make the mere utterance of one word deemed indecent, or the display of an indecent image on broadcast radio or television as FCC violation, with fines up to $325,000.

"This bill is a narrowly tailored approach that would allow the FCC to maintain its policy adopted in 2003 and hold broadcasters responsible for airing expletives and indecent material even if that material was only shown fleetingly," said Rockefeller in a statement issued by his Capitol Hill office Thursday afternoon.

Rockefeller added that for many years, the FCC staff "did not adequately enforce complaints about ‘fleeting expletives' or ‘fleeting images.'" But he added that in 2003 and 2004, "under the leadership of Chairman [Kevin] Martin, the FCC began enforcing its authority to sanction broadcasters who violated the commission's indecency rules."

Rockefeller, who said the change in enforcement attitude by the FCC was "long overdue" and complained that for years, the agency "turned a blind eye to an increase in the coarsening of the language and images that are broadcast on television."