A major Congressional leader says he wants to make broadcast indecency — the smutty talk that gets Howard Stern and Opie and Anthony into trouble — a criminal offense.
Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner III (search) (R-Wis.) says criminal prosecution would be a more efficient way to enforce the indecency regulations.
"I'd prefer using the criminal process rather than the regulatory process," Sensenbrenner said this week at the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (search) conference in San Francisco.
The current system — in which the FCC (search) fines a station for violating the regulations — isn't working, he said.
"People who are in flagrant disregard should face a criminal process rather than a regulator process," Sensenbrenner said. "That is the way to go. Aim the cannon specifically at the people committing the offenses, rather than the blunderbuss approach."
Sensenbrenner could not say immediately how the law would work.
The FCC has fined CBS for the infamous Janet Jackson-Super Bowl incident and Stern for a too-graphic description of sexual acts on his radio show.
It was unclear how much support Sensenbrenner, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, has for a such a drastic change in the law.