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The Fcc & 'Indecency'

April 25, 1987

As a former communications attorney and former staunch supporter of the Federal Communications Commission Chairman Mark Fowler, I was saddened and shocked by the FCC'S recent move to censor three radio stations.

In his tenure as commissioner, Fowler transformed the FCC from a regulatory dinosaur into a relatively streamlined and efficient administrative agency. It is very unfortunate that as one of his last acts as chairman, he helped set the regulatory clock back almost 15 years.

In a 1981 article Fowler stressed that the FCC's role in the regulation of broadcasting should be to encourage competition, and not interfere with the First Amendment rights of broadcasters. It seemed Fowler realized that an integral part of deregulation was a free marketplace of ideas.

I fail to see how the commission can rationally explain the latest turn of events. It appears that the FCC is returning to the days of regulation by "raised eyebrow," in hopes of forcing compliance by the threat of sanctions. Unfortunately, this type of regulation doesn't foster faith in the regulators, since no actual standard for indecency is clear.

It appears the salad days of broadcast deregulation are over. I just hope that the FCC does not return to its past life as a captured agency run by cigar-chomping commissioners listening to a few industry giants and powerful politicians. Until last week, I never thought that that was possible.

TOM R. SHAPIRO

Playa del Rey

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