Howard Stern

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Scott Bushey

Puritanboard Commissioner
Stern draws $495,000 fine

By The Associated Press
Posted April 8 2004, 5:20 PM EDT

WASHINGTON -- Federal regulators Thursday proposed $495,000 in indecency fines against Clear Channel Communications for broadcasts by Howard Stern, prompting the nation's largest radio chain to drop the country's best-known shock jock.

Clear Channel suspended Stern in February from its six stations that carry his program, which regularly features graphic sexual discussion and humor. It decided to make the move permanent after the Federal Communications Commission cited the chain for 18 alleged violations from Stern's April 9, 2003, show.

"Mr. Stern's show has created a great liability for us and other broadcasters who air it," said John Hogan, president of Clear Channel Radio. "The Congress and the FCC are even beginning to look at revoking station licenses. That's a risk we're just not willing to take."

In a statement posted on his Web site, Stern said he was not surprised by the fine. He characterized it as furtherance of a "witch hunt" against him by the Bush administration.

"It is pretty shocking that governmental interference into our rights and free speech takes place in the U.S.," he said. "It's hard to reconcile this with the 'land of the free' and the 'home of the brave."'

The FCC investigation was prompted by a listener in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., who complained about a Stern program that included discussion of sex accompanied by flatulence sounds.

Federal law bars radio stations and over-the-air television channels from airing references to sexual and excretory functions between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m., when children may be tuning in. The rules do not apply to cable and satellite channels or satellite radio.

The FCC imposed the maximum fine of $27,500 for each of 18 violations on six Clear Channel stations: WBGG in Fort Lauderdale; WTKS-FM in Cocoa Beach, Fla.; WTFX-FM in Louisville, Ky.; KIOZ in San Diego; WNVE in Honeoye Falls, N.Y.; and WSDS-FM in Pittsburgh.

The FCC fined each station for two specific incidents during a single program, the first time the commission has done so. Previously, the FCC levied fines for an entire program, no matter how many different indecent utterances occurred.

Commissioner Michael Copps, who usually dissents from indecency decisions because he says the penalties aren't strong enough, was part of a unanimous commission this time.

"I have long advocated that the commission use all of the tools it has to tackle indecency on the public airwaves," he said. "Today's decision is a step forward towards imposing meaningful fines."

Last month, the FCC proposed fining Stern's employer, Infinity Broadcasting, $27,500 for a Stern show broadcast July 26, 2001, on WKRK-FM in Detroit. The show featured discussions about sexual practices and techniques.

Infinity paid $1.7 million in 1995 to settle various violations by Stern. The Center for Public Integrity, a watchdog group, said fines against Stern accounted for almost half of the $4 million in penalties proposed by the FCC since 1990.

Stern has charged on the air that he's being punished for his criticism of President Bush. Clear Channel's political action committee and its employees have given $265,800 to Republicans for the 2004 election, more than any other broadcaster, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan research group.

"You've got to vote Bush out to send a message as a Howard Stern fan," Stern said during one recent broadcast. "There's a cultural war going on. The religious right is winning. We're losing."

A conservative advocacy group, the Parents Television Council, applauded the FCC's decision.

"Stern is a repeat offender of the most commonsense decency standards and we welcome the news that the FCC is moving to combat these patently indecent shows," said L. Brent Bozell III, the group's president.


Puritan Board Freshman
I am as much a free speech person as anyone, but the airways belong to ALL the people which is different from writing a book and selling it, or even cable television where one knows that language and sexual situations may well be 'adult' in nature.

And I am no prude, and if my husband were alive he would tell you I know when to use my fingers and when to use a fork when eating and when to be a lady and when to be wild with him.

But society has forgotten common decency and curtesy which trickles down to the rest of society. What about insisting people to behave badly? Fact is as long as Mr. Stern was allowed to run amok with his vulgarities a lot of people assumed that 'society' allowed this because the FCC didn't complain.

Years ago Mel Brooks was on a PBS special about a show he did in the 50's called Your Show of Shows and he commented that when TV was new (same with radio) you could do skits and commentaries and never ever have to spell the whole scene out for the listener, because those who could afford sets back then were both well educated and ethical/moral. But as the price of sets came down so did the standards because the less educated didn't know how to 'think' but demanded more bluntness.

I think that society has so dumbed down that the 'F' word often replaces whole sentences. So dumbed down that listeners do not know how to think but are spoon fed what to think.

Thank you FCC, to bad you waited so long!


Puritan Board Freshman
I have mixed feelings over this... I'm 100% in favor of free speach. Howard Stern had a disgusting show, but I don't necessarily think it had to be taken off the air. It's like p0rnography; the problem isn't the p0rn, but the lust driving the market for the p0rn. With Stern's show the factor driving it is man's wickedness. I don't think the government (FCC) should regulate morality, we should.

Still, I can see the reasons why he was pulled off the air, and I'm not condoning his horrible program.


Puritan Board Senior
I agree with Beth (welcome back by the way). The use of vulgarity and innuendo proves a weak intellect and stunted vocabulary!

The problem here is that Stern is not arguing for free speech. He is arguing for unregulated free speech. He needs a cable or satellite show.

The probelm with the FCC is that they have let him and others get away with things for far too long. Now it is too little too late.

Of course, we have the choice simply to turn it off, but it is a sad commentary on the state of our culture.


Doodle Bug

Puritan Board Freshman
I think it's great that he has FINALLY been fined, however it's too little too late and I think it is purely symbolic. There is worse or at least the same disgustiong stuff on broadcast TV but they are hesitant to fine them.


Puritan Board Junior
For those easily offended, please do not read....

Excuse me for saying so, but isn't it really stupid that the FCC won't allow fart noises, but allow the Lord's name to be taken in vain?


They censure the word s**t all the time out of movies, yet you can still hear the little kid on "The Princess Bride" say, "Jesus, grandpa, why did you read this story to me."

And to Mr. Stern, this is a nation of freedoms. But what he is suggesting is not freedom. It's chaos.


Times like this make me want to leave this earth behind. I'm not so sure I would have been able to be like Moses. He pleaded for God not to destroy them. Sometimes I feel like I would just step aside and let Him. I know it is wrong to feel that way, but some of this stuff is just too stupid.

Rant over,



Puritan Board Freshman
Well, as I just said on another post, I have been informed, in great detail, about things that take place on the Howard Stern show. Even though I have made it plain that I am not interested and find it offensive. It's amazing. The person (usually a guy) will say, "Oh no, you don't understand. It's not dirty. He said...." Afterwards, when he sees the look on my face, he realizes that it IS offensive and dirty, and he apologizes and feels bad.

So I guess my point is, shows like his seem to be rendering people incapable of discerning what is appropriate for polite society and what isn't. And that is a problem, obviously.


BTW, if you haven't read "A Return to Modesty" by Wendy Shalit, check it out. She gives a brilliant analysis of Mr. Stern and his M.O.



Puritan Board Sophomore
Pvt. :bouncy: was assigned latrine cleaning detail for the 5th time this month and when he excercised his right for free speech he was given an extra week of it.

[Edited on 4-9-2004 by Gregg]


Puritan Board Senior
Perhaps we have all the proof we need that his parents were not [i:2096479f1f]Stern[/i:2096479f1f] enough when he was growing up....



Puritan Board Freshman
[quote:a77d3cad2f][i:a77d3cad2f]Originally posted by pastorway[/i:a77d3cad2f]
Perhaps we have all the proof we need that his parents were not [i:a77d3cad2f]Stern[/i:a77d3cad2f] enough when he was growing up....
PW [/quote:a77d3cad2f]

Now THAT is funny and what a sharp wit you have with the play on words. "Stern' 'stern'

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