The Wall Street Journal reported this morning that Federal Communications Commission Chairman Michael Powell will announce that he is stepping down this afternoon.
Those who have opposed the commission’s rulings on indecency may be tempted to celebrate, but that would most likely be foolhardy. The FCC is implementing the mandates of Congress, to wit last years 99-1 (Senate) and 391-22 (House) vote in favor of the Broadcast Decency Enforcement Act. If anyone thinks Powell leaving the FCC is going to change the dynamic of FCC fines against broadcasters they’re probably wrong. There is an opportunity to get clear rules on what is and is not allowed, and perhaps reform the system of a few complaints causing big fines, but large indecency fines are probably with us for the long haul.