WASHINGTON The Federal Communications Commission rejected a request yesterday to begin imposing indecency standards on satellite radio, where frequent agency target Howard Stern is taking his show.
The FCC’s media bureau turned aside a radio station owner’s request that broadcast indecency regulations apply to subscription satellite services.
Saul Levine, who owns three radio stations in California, asked the commission in October to modify its satellite radio rules to include an indecency provision similar to the one that governs broadcast stations using public airwaves.
In a letter to the FCC, Levine complained that the commission needed to create a “level playing field” in protecting the public interest. “Indecent programming has been and continues to be an ongoing problem as clearly evidenced by the number of monetary sanctions over the past few years,” he wrote.
The agency, in a letter from media bureau chief Kenneth Ferree, declined Levine’s request.
“The commission has previously ruled that subscription-based services do not call into play the issue of indecency,” Ferree wrote.
Levine, who is president of Mt. Wilson FM Broadcasters Inc. in Los Angeles, says the dismissal amounted to a double standard by the FCC.
“The commission is saying it’s fine to have obscenity any time of the day or night on satellite radio even though satellite radio is being made available to people without subscriptions,” such as in rental cars that come with free service, Levine said in a telephone interview.
Stern, who has repeatedly railed against the “censorship” of the FCC, has been involved in the two biggest radio fines imposed by the agency. That includes a record $1.75 million settlement reached over the summer.
In October, he announced his move to satellite radio and said “the FCC ... has stopped me from doing business.” He debuts in January 2006 on Sirius Satellite Radio.