Summary: H.R.3717 — 108th Congress (2003-2004)All Information (Except Text)

Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

Shown Here:
Passed House amended (03/11/2004)

Broadcast Decency Enforcement Act of 2004 - (Sec. 2) Amends the Communications Act of 1934 to provide that if the violator of the terms and conditions of any Federal Communications Commission (FCC) license, permit, or certificate is either a broadcast station licensee or permittee or an applicant for a broadcast license, permit, or certificate, and such violator is determined by the FCC to have broadcast obscene, indecent, or profane material, the amount of forfeiture penalty shall not exceed $500,000 for each violation.

(Sec. 3) Directs the FCC, in enforcing penalties for violators, to take into account specified factors with respect to the violator's: (1) degree of culpability, including whether the offending material was live or recorded and scripted or unscripted; and (2) ability to pay, including whether the violator is a company or individual and the company's size. Provides an enforcement exception, under certain circumstances, for a licensee or permittee not owned or controlled by the network organization providing the offending material to the licensee or permittee for broadcast.

(Sec. 4) Makes the prohibition on penalties against nonlicensees inapplicable in the case of a person who utters obscene, indecent, or profane material broadcast by a licensee or permittee if such person willfully or intentionally makes the utterance.

(Sec. 5) Provides deadlines for actions on complaints of violations of this Act.

(Sec. 6) Authorizes the FCC, in addition to such penalties, to require the offending licensee or permittee to broadcast public service announcements that serve the educational and informational needs of children and reaches an audience of up to five times the audience estimated to have been reached by the obscene, indecent, or profane material.

(Sec. 7) Directs the FCC, in any subsequent proceeding against a broadcast licensee or permittee who has already paid a fine for violating the provisions of this Act or when a court has ordered payment of a penalty and such order has become final, to: (1) consider whether the broadcast of such material demonstrates a lack of character or other qualifications required to operate a station; and (2) treat such violation as a serious violation with respect to the determination of license or permit renewal.

(Sec. 9) Requires that if the FCC has issued a notice of violation in each of three or more proceedings during the term of the broadcast license and in each proceeding the fine was paid or a court has ordered payment of a penalty and such order has become final, then the FCC shall commence a proceeding to consider revocation of that station's license or permit.

(Sec. 10) Requires annual FCC reports to Congress to include information with respect to violations of this Act and related proceedings.

(Sec. 11) Requires the General Accounting Office to study and report to specified congressional committees on the complaints made to the FCC concerning the broadcasting of obscene, indecent, and profane material.

(Sec. 12) Expresses the sense of Congress that the broadcast television station licensees should reinstitute a family viewing policy for broadcasters that is similar to the policy that existed in the United States from 1975 to 1983.