The Daily Stern
: DARE YA: Ernie Miller dares the FCC to call Howard Stern profane, not just indecent — so they can define what the F they mean by profanity.
: DAMNED ON HEARSAY: Miller also takes the FCC to proper task for its recent decision against Chicago jock Mancow. They didn’t rule on the basis of a tape or transcript but instead on the say of a stalker who has filed 66 complaints against Mancow (only six resulting in fines) and whom Mancow is suing because of this harassment. So the FCC fined Mancow on the basis of hearsay alone. He also notes that the discussion fined is worse in the FCC’s eyes because it occurred with a porn star, meaning that some professions get less protection under the law and meaning that the speaker is a factor as much as the speech.
Not only is the FCC maximizing fines against broadcasters, they are lowering the evidence bar and effectively shifting burdens of proof. Additionally, they now consider it appropriate to discriminate against and presumptively find guilty members of certain professions.
: DEAD MAN WALKING: Eric Boehlert at Salon, who has been doing a good job staying on the FCC and Stern story, has a new installment today, saying that it is likely that Stern will be off the air soon because the FCC is going after him with a vendetta.
“The indecency debate is traditionally a pendulum that swings — there are reactions and overreactions,” says Stuart Shorenstein, a communications attorney and partner at Wolf, Block, Schorr and Solis-Cohen LLP. “But this is clearly unprecedented. It’s a witch hunt. In 2001, FCC chairman Powell said the government is not my nanny. Well, the nanny is back.” …
“At the present time I don’t understand the rules, nor can anybody else. They’re obscure,” complains Reed Hundt, who served as FCC chairman under President Clinton. “I don’t defend Howard Stern. But I am saying in the absence of any kind of clarity of rules it looks like a political exercise. Even Howard Stern deserves some element of fairness. Because for the first time in decades the FCC now has enough power to put stations and people out of business and can do it on a whim. And it’s not true that once you unleash government in an arbitrary manner [to monitor speech], you can confine it to the topic of indecency.”
Read it all. The story echoes some of the points I made in the magazine story I wrote (which may yet see the dark of print… more on that later).
: ET TU, MEL? Media Life asks how long Viacom and Stern supporter Mel Karmazin will stick by his jock. Oh, they’re sticking together.
Yesterday morning, Stern said he wishes they would take the delays and bleep-buttons off his show and just let him do what he has been doing, for every time they hit the button it is as if they are agreeing with the government that the show did something wrong. And Stern wants to push the issue and cut to the chase and get kicked off rather than worry about every word he says.
When the threat of fines grows too big, Mel and Howard will come to an agreement about moving on, I’ll bet.