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Naughty Toons Slapped with $500,000 Fines?

Broadcasters may have to rethink how adult their adult animation gets now that the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed legislation increasing the maximum fine for radio and TV indecency from $11,000 to $500,000, reports the ASSOCIATED PRESS.

The vote was 391-22. A U.S. Senate bill is under discussion. The bill raises the maximum fine for a broadcast license-holder from $27,500 to $500,000 and the fine for a performer from $11,000 to $500,000.

This move is clearly in connection with the Super Bowl halftime incident where Janet Jackson's right breast was exposed for a few seconds on live television in front of 90 million viewers. Since then broadcasters have been clamping down of risqué material. MTV quickly moved its more raunchy videos, including Britney Spears' TOXIC, to after 10:00 pm. Clear Channel Communications pulled shock-jock Howard Stern from the air for unspecified dirty deeds. And in toon land, UPN decided to cut some toon T&A from the debut episode of its new 3D animated series, GAME OVER.

The Bush administration strongly supports the bill, but critics say it takes away Americans' right to free speech. In a letter to Congress, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists union president John Connolly and national executive director Greg Hessinger said, "Such legislation should be rejected on the grounds that it represents an unconstitutional threat to free speech and would have an unnecessary chilling effect on artistic freedom."

Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., said performers should be held accountable for violating indecency standards. "You can't tell me that they don't know what the standards are."

Federal law and FCC rules for over-the-air radio and TV stations bar the programs that refer to sexual and excretory functions between 6:00 am and 10:00 pm as a way of protecting children from unsuitable material. These restrictions do not apply to cable and satellite TV and satellite radio.

So does this mean we'll be seeing the end of the black bars on STRIPPERELLA and less revealing clothing on KING OF THE HILL's Luanne?

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Rick DeMott
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