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Network permanently removes Stern radio show after fine

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    News Media Update         WASHINGTON, D.C.         Broadcasting    

Network permanently removes Stern radio show after fine

  • Clear Channel Communications permanently removed radio talk show host Howard Stern’s program from its lineup yesterday after receiving a proposed fine of $495,000 from the FCC for “indecency” on an April 2003 Stern program.

April 9, 2004 — Clear Channel Communications permanently removed “The Howard Stern Show” from its radio stations yesterday after receiving a $495,000 fine from the Federal Communications Commission for broadcast indecency.

The FCC proposed the fine — a maximum $27,500 penalty for 18 indecency violations aired on six Clear Channel stations — in response to complaints concerning an April 9, 2003, program in which Stern and his guests discussed anal sex while sounds of flatulence played in the background. “Indecency” is partially defined by the FCC as “sexual and excretory content.”

Although the Stern show is owned by Infinity Broadcasting, complaints were filed with the FCC by listeners of Clear Channel stations. The FCC has said it will now investigate Infinity for the airing of that same program.

Clear Channel, the nation’s largest broadcast chain, agreed just last month to pay a $755,000 fine for indecent remarks made on the “Bubba the Love Sponge” radio program in Florida. The fine was a record for one incident, and the program’s host, Todd Clem, has since been fired.

“Unfortunately, the FCC’s latest action, combined with the deafening silence from the Stern show on their future plans to comply with the law, leave us no choice but to abandon the program for good,” Clear Channel President and CEO John Hogan said in a press release.

The six Clear Channel stations that aired Stern’s show are located in Cocoa Beach, Fla., Louisville, Ky., San Diego, Calif., Honeoye Falls, N.Y., Pittsburgh, Pa., and Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Infinity Broadcasting, which owns 35 stations that carry the shock-jock’s morning program, declined to comment.

Said Stern, in a statement published on his personal Web site, “It is pretty shocking that governmental interference into our rights and free speech takes place in the U.S.”

Legislation to increase the maximum indecency fine to $500,000, in addition to possible broadcasting license revocation, was passed by the House last month and is awaiting Senate approval.

The FCC yesterday also reaffirmed a $14,000 fine against Emmis Communications for repeatedly airing indecent material over a Chicago affiliate, WKQX.

LH

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