Stern Action


The Hollywood Reporter has all the scoop on Clear Channel's self-righteous dumping of Howard Stern's "vulgar" radio program.

"Clear Channel drew a line in the sand today with regard to protecting our listeners from indecent content, and Howard Stern's show blew right through it," [Clear Channel President John] Hogan said. "It was vulgar, offensive and insulting, not just to women and African-Americans but to anyone with a sense of common decency. We will not air Howard Stern on Clear Channel stations until we are assured that his show will conform to acceptable standards of responsible broadcasting."

The timing is tad (should I say a tit?) bit suspicious, especially since Clear Channel, the frequent target of attacks on "media consolidation," is always in a particularly vulnerable position when it comes to dealing with the Federal Communications Commission, whether we're talking about expanding its network or getting fined for saying bad words on the air (yeah, yeah, content regulation and ownership rules are separate functions, blah, blah).

On one level, this is all as it should be: If Clear Channel doesn't want to broadcast Stern, more power to 'em. Just like the way Wal-Mart either refuses to sell naughty pop CDs or hawks "edited" versions of them. The difference, though, is this, and it's a big one: Clear Channel is in a federally regulated marketplace and the FCC's jihad against "indecency"–including imposing fines on offending broadcasters and threatening license revocation–will mean that certain types of speech will be censored, despite demonstrated audience appeal for same. A minority of listeners in any given place can effectively shut down things.

So much for the "public interest," one of the things the FCC is supposed to look after.

[Thanks to reader Steve Heath of the Drug Policy Forum of Florida for the tip.]