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Re: Extreme Radio, WNEW, and WBCN (Was: Re: WNEW)

>Incidentally, on the subject of extreme radio, I've been listening to 
>WMUA on the web lately, and late at night I've heard things much 
>more extreme than anything I've ever heard from Howard Stern.  Last 
>night, they were playing a number of records that used the f-word 
>repeatedly -- does the FCC no longer prohibit that word?  And the 
>people who do the late Tuesday show have sexual discussions that are 
>the most frank I've ever heard on radio.

FCC enforcement of the indecency/obscenity regulations is spotty at best
(just like their enforcement of technical regulations, etc...).  Unless
somebody brings a particular broadcast to their attention, they're not
likely to discover it on their own.

Not only that, but the definition of what is indecent or obscene seems
to be arbitrary.  There is no definitive list of prohibited words anymore
(if there ever really was one); I believe the regulations state that
"community standards" determine what is indecent or obscene and what is
not.  Translation: if someone takes offense to it, and has a tape or
some hard evidence to back it up, you could be in trouble.

Even then, whether or not the FCC chooses to do anything seems to depend
heavily on how much pressure Congress is putting on them to "clean up the
airwaves" vs. whatever current court rulings may have been made the other
way.  From time to time, you'll hear about a whole slew of fines that they
put out at once, typically followed by months (or years) without any,
depending on the current state of the tug of war between Congress and
the courts.

- -Shawn Mamros
E-mail to: mamros@mit.edu