The House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the Decency Enforcement Act on Wednesday, sending the pro-family-backed legislation to the White House for final approval.
The final House vote approved the bill with 379 in favor, 35 opposed and 18 absentees. The Senate passed the exact same bill on May 18 by unanimous consent without a recorded vote.
While the bill will have many implications, its biggest impact will be felt among media giants that violate FCC standards on broadcasting. The bill increases to $325,000 the per-incident fine the FCC can impost on license for broadcasting indecent or obscene material a tenfold increase from the current maximum fine, which is $32,500.
Pro-family groups celebrated the bills passage, calling it a major victory for American families.
Finally, broadcasters will be held financially responsible for the filthy content they transmit, said Lanier Swann, Director of Government Relations for Concerned Women for America. This victory belongs to the citizens and grassroots organizations who have taken a stand for families by insisting that senators heed their demand for clean airwaves.
Janet Jacksons infamous wardrobe malfunction during the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show had prompted a wave of Christian conservative groups to prompt both chambers of Congress in raising the ante for broadcast giants. Some groups, like the Washington-based Family Research Council, placed broadcast decency as one of its top agendas for 2005 and 2006.
The era of 'slap on the wrist' has ended, and a message has been sent to Viacom and other media giants: violate the public trust on the nation's airwaves, and you'll pay the price, said Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council The message is simple - clean up or pay up!
On Thursday, President Bush applauded Congress for passing the Broadcast Decency Enforcement Act, and said he would sign the bill once it lands on his desk.
I believe that government has a responsibility to help strengthen families, said Bush. I look forward to signing this important legislation into law.