Howard Stern may be concluding his broadcast radio career in the red. The FCC received a complaint about a February 2005 broadcast of Stern's program from Miami lawyer Jack Thompson*, who objected to a segment featuring female porn stars golfing with dildos strapped to their foreheads, followed by the women singing "Amazing Grace" with sausages down their throats.
Howard Stern's program on Clear Channel was slapped with a $495,000 indecency fine for a sexual discussion meeting Thompson's disapproval in April of 2003 (click to read the program's transcript, as filed with the FCC). Prior to that, the Howard Stern Show received an indecency fine of $27,500 in 2001 for graphic descriptions of sexual and excretory nature. Frustrated with FCC restrictions and Clear Channel's internal indecency filters, the morning host will move his show to satellite radio on January 1, 2006. More on Stern's indecency evasion here.
Thompson's most recent complaint arrives at a very strategic moment... The backlash resulting from Janet's nipplegate incident in January of 2004 led to an unprecedented influx of FCC complaints last year, followed by the largest issuance of indecency fines on record. This year, we've heard nary a peep out of the FCC concerning indecency. Plenty of warning signals have emerged during these quiet months, however: the Broadcast Decency Enforcement Act made waves in the House but quickly vaporized upon reaching the Senate floor, the FCC endured a change in leadership pointed toward tightening indecency standards, and most recently the commission hired a conservative activist as a policy advisor. Will the FCC now resurrect the deflating indecency issue to set the stage for a fine-hike and another crackdown in 2005, using Howard Stern as their whipping-boy?
* Before his battles with Howard Stern, Jack Thompson made enemies with 2Live Crew in 1989, leading the campaign against the album As Nasty As They Wanna Be, which was ultimately deemed obscene by the feds. Ice-T was dropped from the Time Warner label in 1992, following Thompson's anti-"Cop Killer" crusade. More recently, Thompson has railed against violent video games, including Grand Theft Auto, Manhunt, The Sims 2, and Killer 7.