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Criticism of enforcement bureau grows among FCC commissioners

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    NMU         WASHINGTON, D.C.         Broadcasting         Jul 9, 2001    

Criticism of enforcement bureau grows among FCC commissioners

  • A new commissioner joins colleague in voicing opposition to cursory investigations of indecency complaints lodged against broadcasters.

New FCC Commissioner Michael Copps has joined Commissioner Gloria Tristani in criticizing the commission’s enforcement bureau for dropping indecency complaints against two radio stations.

Copps’ position is significant because it gives new life to Tristani’s longstanding gripes that the enforcement bureau is lax in investigating citizen complaints. The pair would need just one more vote on the five-member commission to force a crackdown on indecency.

The most recent complaints involved a North Carolina radio station that challenged listeners who had never masturbated to try it and then share their experiences on the air for prizes. The program was broadcast during a morning show at 8 a.m. Feb. 5 on WDCG-FM.

The second case involved a radio host discussing sexual intercourse between a 27-year-old man and a 9-year-old girl. The host of the show on WKQX-FM in Chicago, Eric “Mancow” Muller, claimed to have had sex with a 9-year-old girl when he was 27. A listener filed five complaints against the station, and two resulted in Notices of Apparent Liability against WKQX. But the complaints about the discussion involving the 9-year-old were dismissed.

In a statement, Tristani repeated earlier criticisms that the enforcement bureau dismisses complaints too quickly without adequate investigation. Tristani is expected to step down from the commission later this year to run for the U.S. Senate from New Mexico.

Copps, in a written statement released July 2 about the Illinois and North Carolina decisions, echoed Tristani’s arguments, saying the FCC places an “inordinate responsibility” on the complaining citizen. The commission should step up enforcement efforts, he added. He voiced concern about an “increasing amount of sexually explicit and profane programming” that is accessible to children.

“Americans have a right to expect their government to enforce the indecency laws of the United States,” Copps said in a statement. “This will be an important priority for me as I begin my service at the commission.”

CM

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