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Howard Stern suspended for indecency


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From Wolf Blitzer Reports' Jennifer Coggiola in Washington:

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Clear Channel Communications, which operates 1,200 radio stations nationwide, announced a zero-tolerance policy on indecency this week. The announcement coincides with Thursday's Capitol Hill hearings on the same subject.

One DJ who's being closely watched said he saw it coming.

"I predicted this right after the Super Bowl," he says.

After the media swarm surrounding CBS' half-time show, the broadcasting "decency" war has moved to the next medium -- radio.

The latest casualty is shock jock DJ Howard Stern.

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"I can't even tell you what's going on. I learned about this last night," Stern told viewers during his Thursday radio show.

It was during Tuesday morning's program that featured an interview with Rick Solomon, who is now famous after he and Paris Hilton's homemade video sex tape hit the Internet, that Stern allegedly took things too far. The interview included sexual references and a racial slur by one caller.

After a review of this broadcast, the nation's largest radio conglomerate, Clear Channel Communications, suspended the shock jock indefinitely in six markets.

Clear Channel on Wednesday issued a new zero-tolerance policy for any material found indecent by the FCC on their air. Punishment for any alleged violation includes huge fines for the station and suspension and possible termination for the DJ in question.

That's exactly what happened to Tampa, Florida, DJ "Bubba the Love Sponge" after one father was alarmed to hear sexual content on his program.

"For this radio show to be so blatantly promoting things like that I thought was irresponsible," says parent Douglas Vanderlaan.

So he called advertisers and the FCC who proposed a $755,000 fine against Clear Channel for alleged violations of indecency laws by the Tampa DJ.

"They're realizing the content of a show like this is inconsistent with community values and I'm glad they're coming to that realization," says Vanderlaan.

"Bubba" was fired Wednesday. The show has no official comment, but his web site criticizes the FCC for "grandstanding, politically-motivated actions."

It goes on to say:

"If you think this is bad, just wait until six months from now. With the crosshairs off of Bubba, now other 'controversial' talent may be next."

Bubba, Howard Stern, and radio guidelines were all addressed at Thursday's House hearing on indecency in broadcasting, where Clear Channel's CEO, John Hogan, apologized for the Stern program.

"As a broadcaster, as the CEO and as the father of a 9-year-old girl, I am ashamed to be associated in any way with those words. They are tasteless, they're vulgar, they should not, do not and will not represent what our radio stations are all about," said Hogan.

Howard Stern's program is syndicated nationwide by another company, Infinity Broadcasting. Clear Channel has now said they'll offer DJ's training classes on indecent material.


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