Report Calls Howard Stern 'King of All Fines'

Susan Jones | July 7, 2008 | 8:04pm EDT
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( - The Federal Communication Commission on Thursday proposed the maximum $27,500 fine for a Howard Stern show broadcast on WKRK-FM in Detroit in 2001. A listener complained about the show's offensive sexual content.

A new report says proposed fines stemming from the Howard Stern Show are nothing new for his employer, Infinity Broadcasting.

In fact, said the Center for Public Integrity, the Federal Communications Commission has levied $3.95 million in fines for broadcast indecency since 1990, with shock-jock Howard Stern and Infinity accounting for half of that total.

According to a report prepared by the Center, five radio shows were responsible for $3.44 million in proposed fines since 1990, or 87 percent of the total.

The top-five radio shows included: The Howard Stern Show ($1,964,250 in proposed fines); Bubba the Love Sponge ($753,000 in proposed fines); The Opie and Anthony Show ($378,500 in proposed fines); Elliott in the Morning Show ($302,500 in proposed fines); Mancow's Morning Madhouse ($42,000 in proposed fines).

Of those five radio shows, two (Bubba and Elliott) are owned by Clear Channel Communications Corp. and two (Stern and Opie/Anthony) are owned by Viacom's Infinity division. Clear Channel and Infinity are the largest and second largest radio broadcasters in the country, respectively, the Center for Public Integrity noted.

Using FCC records and LexisNexis legal research, the Center for Public Integrity said it identified 72 broadcast indecency proceedings instigated by the FCC since 1990.

While fines are up, indecency actions are down, the Center's report said. It noted that in 2003 -- and so far in 2004 -- the FCC has proposed six fines totaling $1,430,000. For the three previous years, there were 21 proposed fines for $238,400.

Despite the flap over Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction" during the Super Bowl halftime show on CBS and increasing concern over profanities uttered on awards shows, only three fines were levied against television broadcasters since 1990, about 4 percent of the total, the Center said in its report.
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