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FCC Flip-Flops On Bono F-Word

Federal regulators continued their crackdown on indecency Thursday, ruling that an expletive uttered by rock singer Bono on NBC television violated broadcast standards and issuing a fine for a broadcast of the Howard Stern radio show.

The Federal Communications Commission proposed fining Infinity Broadcasting the maximum $27,500 for a Stern show broadcast on WKRK-FM in Detroit. KRK is owned by Infinity Broadcasting, which like CBS, is a Viacom company.

The FCC also overruled its staff and said that Bono's expletive during the 2003 Golden Globe Awards program was indecent and profane, but issued no fine.

FCC Chairman Michael Powell had asked his fellow commissioners to overturn the FCC enforcement bureau's finding.

The FCC also proposed fining a subsidiary of Clear Channel Communications $55,000 for a broadcast on two Florida radio stations during which the host conducted an interview with a couple allegedly having sex.

The fines are the latest in a stepped-up campaign by the FCC to crack down on indecency. Critics have said the commission failed to aggressively enforce rules, leading to a coarsening of the airwaves.

Federal law bars radio stations and over-the-air television channels from airing references to sexual and excretory functions between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m., when children may be tuning in. The rules do not apply to cable and satellite channels or satellite radio.

The FCC received hundreds of complaints about the Golden Globes broadcast after Bono, the lead singer of the Irish rock group U2, said, "This is really, really, f------ brilliant."

The enforcement bureau said last October that Bono's comment was not indecent or obscene because he did not use the word to describe a sexual act. "The performer used the word ... as an adjective or expletive to emphasize an exclamation," the bureau said.

To avoid a repeat incident, NBC aired this year's Golden Globes broadcast on a 10-second delay. ABC did the same with its telecast of the Academy Awards show.

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