NO FINES ON INDIVIDUAL PERFORMERS CONTAINED IN BROADCAST INDECENCY LEGISLATION PASSED BY THE SENATE
 
MEDIA CONSOLIDATION AMENDMENT SURVIVES


June 22, 2004, New York, NY - The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA), the union that represents performers, announcers, broadcasters and recording artists, lauded the Broadcast Indecency Amendment passed by the Senate today as part of the Department of Defense ("DOD") authorization bill for its non-inclusion of fine increases for individuals. 

Rebecca Rhine, AFTRA’s Assistant National Executive Director for Public Policy and Strategic Planning, stated, “This legislation, rightfully delayed as issues surrounding media consolidation and freedom of expression were more fully considered, reinforces the long-standing policy of the Federal Communications Commission ("FCC") to hold broadcast licensees—who control and profit from programming decisions—responsible for broadcast indecency violations.  While legitimate concerns still exist about the possible chilling effect that large broadcaster fines may place upon free speech over the airwaves, we are gratified and relieved that the legislation avoids the pitfall of fining individual performers, announcers, broadcasters and sound recording artists."

“In addition, the inclusion of the amendment addressing media consolidation is key, as these two issues are inexorably linked and must be examined together.  It is no accident that the increase in complaints about material deemed offensive coincides with the virtual elimination of ‘localism’ and the resultant lack of any connection to, or focus on, community standards."

“Finally, while the legislation does not levy fines against individuals, the ongoing implementation of corporate ‘pass through’ policies, transferring liability for FCC indecency fines levied against licensees to individual performers, announcers and broadcast journalists, has the very real potential to undermine both the intent and effectiveness of the legislation.  The union will utilize all appropriate means necessary to challenge this practice before it spreads any further throughout the industry.” 

The bill now moves to conference committee with the House DOD bill. 

The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, affiliated with the AFL-CIO, is a diverse union representing nearly 80,000 professionals nationwide working in news and entertainment programming on television and radio as well as in the sound recording industry, commercials and industrial work, and new technologies such as interactive programming and CD ROMs. Visit AFTRA online at www.aftra.com.
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