WASHINGTON – The nation's largest radio chain has agreed to a record settlement to resolve indecency complaints against Howard Stern (search) and other radio personalities, federal regulators announced Wednesday.
The Federal Communications Commission's (search) $1.75 million deal with Clear Channel Communications is the largest settlement negotiated by the FCC and a broadcaster.
It narrowly tops the $1.7 million that Infinity Broadcasting paid in 1995 for indecency violations by Stern, the shock jock whose New York City-based radio show features sexually explicit talk and off-color humor.
FCC Chairman Michael Powell (search) praised the settlement as a victory for the American public.
"Clear Channel has now formally admitted that it violated the law and has made binding commitments to clean up its act," Powell said in a statement. He said the radio giant would train its on-air personalities and employees on indecency laws, and suspend and fire those who violate the rules.
The agreement settles fines proposed by the agency against Clear Channel (search) for remarks Stern made in an April 2003 broadcast. It also covers several dozen open investigations and pending cases stemming from listener complaints lodged against shows on Clear Channel stations.
San Antonio-based Clear Channel said the settlement allows the company to wipe the slate clean and move forward.
"We didn't agree that all the complaints were legally indecent, but some clearly crossed the line and for those we have taken full responsibility," said Andrew Levin, Clear Channel executive vice president and chief legal officer.
The settlement comes on top of a $755,000 fine that Clear Channel agreed to pay earlier this year for graphic discussions about sex and drugs aired on the "Bubba the Love Sponge" program. Clear Channel fired disc jockey Todd Clem because of the discussions.
The FCC had previously proposed a $495,000 fine for Stern's show, which aired on six of Clear Channel's 1,200-plus stations. The company has since yanked Stern from its airwaves, though he is still heard on dozens of Infinity's stations.