Wheeler Hearing Features Broadcast Indecency, Spectrum, DISCLOSE

Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) this week zeroed in on a subject of concern to over 100,000 Americans who have taken time to file comments on it at the FCC. In a Senate Commerce Committee hearing, Senator Scott asked Tom Wheeler, the President’s nominee to be the next FCC Chairman, how he would approach FCC enforcement against broadcast indecency. Wheeler did not go into specifics but noted discomfort over some programming his grandkids may be exposed to and seemed to hold out hope for “our better angels” to improve the situation. NRB is grateful to Senator Scott for spotlighting this important subject, and NRB continues to urge against a shift in FCC policy to pursuing only “egregious” cases of indecency on the airwaves.

The ongoing FCC incentive spectrum auction proceeding, including the follow-up re-pack of TV stations, was a hot topic in the hearing, as was the continuing battle over the DISCLOSE Act (H.R. 148). In a hearing earlier this spring, Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) had pressed hard on FCC Commissioners to exercise alleged existing authority to force disclosure of political TV ad donors. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) countered by underlining the deep divisions in Congress on the DISCLOSE Act and warned the Commission not to get into the partisan debate.  In this week’s hearing, after the same subject had come up several times again in Senators’ questions to Mr. Wheeler, Senator Cruz asked for a written response on his opinion and suggested, “This is the one issue that in my opinion has the potential to derail your nomination.”

By Aaron Mercer, Vice President of Government Relations

Published: June 21, 2013