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Senate bill targets broadcast indecency

WASHINGTON -- Faced with public ire over racy language, explicit scenes, and skin-baring outfits, the Senate overwhelmingly agreed yesterday to fine radio and television broadcasters and personalities as much as $3 million a day for airing indecent entertainment.

After the uproar stoked by Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake's ''wardrobe malfunction" at this year's Super Bowl, the Senate rushed the bill through on a 99-1 vote without floor debate.

GOP Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas said the issue had been debated enough. Lawmakers have continually criticized broadcasters for airing what they say is increasingly coarse programming that can be seen or heard by children.

''People are tired of this indecent material on over-the-air public broadcast, particularly during prime time when people's families are watching," said Brownback, the bill's sponsor. ''We're going to have to take action because the broadcasters won't police themselves."

Under the measure, the maximum fine for both broadcasters and entertainers would increase to up to $275,000 per indecent incident, up from $27,500 for license holders and $11,000 for personalities. The fines would keep increasing for each incident until a maximum fine of $3 million a day is reached.

The House passed a similar bill that would set fines at $500,000. Differences between the two bills must be worked out.

The Senate moved the measure without debate as part of the massive defense bill expected to be approved later this week.

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