It's coming up on seven month's since the FCC issued an indecency fine, after a year in which they issued more fines than in the previous fourteen years combined. While I welcome this silence on one of the most burning issues of our great republic, it does make one wonder exactly what the hell is going on. Did the FCC get gun-shy when a few broadcasting behemoths (Fox and Viacom) threatened to take the Commission's illogical and inconsistent rules to the Supreme Court? Or is the FCC simply in disarray following the departure of Michael Powell? And what ever happened to the Broadcast Decency Enforcement Act, the congressional act that would've increased by ten fold the fines that stations face for uttering dangerous phrases like "Sit On My Face."
The Center For Public Integrity just issued this report which speculates that the FCC feels it has already accomplished its mission of airwave cleansing. The CPI report also has new handy-dandy charts showing the levels of fines for the last 14 years, and the most fined programs. (Bubba The Love Sponge checks in at third place.)
My own opinion, expressed in this post last March, was that both the FCC and Congress overplayed their cards in 2004, inviting constitutional challenges they might have lost (in the FCC's case) and tacking on extra censorship baggage which might have doomed the new legislation (in the case of Congress).
Kevin Martin, the new FCC head, has yet to demonstrate where he is taking this issue. He talks a much harder line than Powell did, but the Martin FCC, to their credit, has yet to take a single action on the issue. Let's hope it stays that way.