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Radio station may be fined over alleged indecency

WNEW of New York awaits an FCC ruling over the broadcast of supposed sex acts.

September 05, 2003|Monty Phan | Newsday

NEW YORK — A year after broadcasting supposed sex acts in St. Patrick's Cathedral, WNEW-FM here has undergone a format change and fired shock jocks Opie and Anthony are still off the air -- but the station may have yet to answer to the government.

The station is awaiting a Federal Communications Commission ruling that could fine the station between $7,000 and $27,500 for each incident of indecency the commissioners rule it committed.

The FCC's Enforcement Bureau has made its recommendation to the commissioners, but it's unknown what it was, an agency spokesman said.

Commissioner Michael Copps has been outspoken about the agency's handling of indecency complaints, saying that when they "languish for a year, the message is loud and clear that the FCC is not serious about enforcing our nation's laws."

In August 2002, Gregg "Opie" Hughes and Anthony Cumia, whose show was the station's top-rated program, promoted a radio contest in which sex acts were supposedly committed in the cathedral. Infinity Broadcasting, the unit of Viacom that operates the station, axed the show a week after the incident and in April changed WNEW's format from all-talk to a mix of entertainment news and gossip and music aimed at females ages 25 to 44.

Hughes and Cumia presumably remain under contract with Infinity, which declined comment on the issue. According to their Web site,

www.OpieAnd, they want to return to radio but have no plans. A statement attributed to Hughes says, "I estimate that at the worst, we'll be in exile for another 10 months," an apparent reference to when the duo's contract expires.

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