FCC cancels fine for radio play of "Slim Shady''

By | January 9, 2002 at 12:00 AM

Federal communications regulators said Tuesday they changed their minds about an edited version of “The Real Slim Shady,” a song by rapper Eminem, deciding it was not that offensive after all.

In June, the Federal Communications Commission proposed slapping KKMG-FM in Pueblo, Colorado with a $7,000 fine for airing the song by Eminem, despite editing done by the station, which is owned by Citadel Broadcasting Co.

The FCC initially said the radio station did not delete parts that referred to sexual activity. But Citadel countered the references in the edited version were not explicit or graphic enough to be offensive and were not used to pander to or shock the audience.

As a result, the FCC backed down.

“We disagree with our initial analysis and we now conclude that the material at issue was not patently offensive under contemporary community standards for the broadcast medium,” FCC Enforcement Chief David Solomon said in the order rescinding the proposed fine.

Eminem, a rapper from Detroit whose real name is Marshall Bruce Mathers III, has come under a flood of criticism for his songs, which his detractors say are violent, full of profanity and glorify rape, murder and homophobia.

Yet “The Real Slim Shady” last year won three Grammy awards, the music industry’s top prize, including one for the best rap solo performance and rap solo album.

The broadcast of obscene or indecent programming violates U.S. law and the FCC has defined indecent speech to include language that depicts or describers sexual organs or acts and is patently offensive, “as measured by contemporary community standards.”

Last year, another radio station in Wisconsin was fined $7,000 for playing an unedited version of the Eminem song and the broadcaster ended up paying the penalty.

One FCC commissioner complained Tuesday that the decision to cancel the proposed fine against the Colorado station should have been made by the commissioners, rather than the FCC’s enforcement bureau.

“In a matter of this importance, I believe the commissioners themselves, rather than the bureau, should be making the decision about whether to reverse the initial finding,” Commissioner Michael Copps, the lone Democrat on the panel, said in a statement.

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