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FCC Trims Record Fine Against CBS

March 31, 2006|From Bloomberg News

The Federal Communications Commission reduced a record $3.6-million indecency fine against CBS stations for an episode of "Without a Trace" after learning eight outlets aired the show after 10 p.m.

The FCC order, which reduces the proposed fine to about $3.35 million, means the penalty is no longer the largest ever sought by the agency. Federal rules bar broadcasters from airing indecent material from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., when children are thought to be most likely to watch.

"The FCC determined that the stations in question broadcast the show after 10 p.m., so we canceled the notice for those stations," FCC spokesman David Fiske said Thursday.

The proposed fine against more than 100 CBS stations and affiliates was first levied by the FCC, led by Chairman Kevin J. Martin, March 15 as part of a package of more than 40 cases. The "Without a Trace" episode depicted a teen orgy without showing nudity. CBS spokeswoman Shannon Jacobs said at the time that the network planned to ask the FCC to review the fine.

The stations no longer subject to fines are in Indiana and Tennessee, the FCC order said. Station managers and lawyers for the eight said they had complained about the proposed fines.

The largest FCC fine of $3.5 million was levied against Viacom Inc.'s radio and TV stations in 2004 for broadcasts including ones by radio personality Howard Stern.

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