Viacom's Karmazin: ‘Anal Sex’ OK Over Air

Rhett Pardon
NEW YORK – "We are fighting in Iraq for freedom. If it doesn't appeal to you, shut the radio off. Just because you don't like the words 'anal sex,' doesn't make it indecent."

So said Viacom President and Chief Operating Officer Mel Karmazin, who blasted the Federal Communications Commission Tuesday over this year’s indecency crackdown.

Karmazin, whose company is challenging an FCC indecency fine for an incident on Howard Stern's radio show, spoke at a morning event, titled "A Conversation With Mel Karmazin," and hosted by the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications in New York at Manhattan's InterContinental Barclay Hotel.

Karmazin also questioned whether or not the FCC knows exactly what is “indecent.”

"We think it is a very slippery slope," Karmazin said. "So many journalists have not been supportive of the First Amendment."

Karmazin admitted to attendees that Viacom, which owns Infinity Broadcasting that airs Stern’s show, has legal counsel listening to the shows to determine if the material is indecent.

"We're very clear we don't broadcast indecency," Karmazin said.

U.S. law bars radio stations and television stations from airing references to sexual and excretory functions between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. The rules don't apply to websites, cable and satellite channels or satellite radio.

Earlier this month, Clear Channel Communications Inc. dumped Stern after the FCC levied $495,000 in indecency fines against the broadcaster. One of the largest sanctions ever, the FCC imposed the maximum fine of $27,500 for each of 18 violations on six Clear Channel stations for 18 alleged obscenity violations from an April 9, 2003, show.

Separately, Karmazin told the audience that Viacom’s MTV division was exploring ways to offer a music downloading service for consumers. Describing the Internet as an "important area of growth," he declined to outline any other details of MTV’s move. Viacom operates nearly 250 websites for its various divisions.