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Static over radio station's broadcast leads to indecency fine

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    NMU         WISCONSIN         Broadcasting         Jan 23, 2001    

Static over radio station’s broadcast leads to indecency fine

  • A Wisconsin radio station violated broadcast decency standards when it aired an unedited version of “The Real Slim Shady,” according to the FCC.

The Federal Communications Commission fined a Madison, Wis., radio station $7,000 for a song selection that the station said was caused by “static electricity.”

WZEE radio was fined on Jan. 17 for violating FCC decency standards by playing an unedited version of “The Real Slim Shady” by rapper Eminem. The lyrics contain expletives and graphic references to sex.

WZEE’s parent company, Clear Channel Communications, said it received a compact disc that contained several versions of the song — some which complied with radio decency standards — and static electricity caused the player to skip to an unedited version, even though it was cued for an edited one.

The incident happened Aug. 24, 2000, at about 3:30 p.m. FCC decency standards are enforced from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Clear Channel Communications also claimed the song does not violate the definition of broadcast indecency because although it does contain offensive words, it does not contain language that clearly describes sexual or excretory activities or organs in patently offensive terms.

The FCC disagreed. It noted that “the context in which material is offered is essential to making a determination as to whether material is indecent.” Upon considering the entire song, the FCC decided “The Real Slim Shady” when unedited is inappropriate for broadcast during times when children may be listening to the radio.

(In the Matter of Capstar TX Limited Partnership, Licensee of Station WZEE(FM), Madison, Wisconsin) EH

© 2001 The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

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