WASHINGTON (AP) – Federal regulators announced a record $1.75 million settlement Wednesday with the nation’s largest radio chain to resolve indecency complaints against Howard Stern and other radio personalities.

The Federal Communications Commission’s deal with Clear Channel Communications is the latest example of federal regulators’ increased enforcement of indecency standards.

The amount narrowly tops the $1.7 million that Infinity Broadcasting paid in 1995 for indecency violations by Stern, the shock jock whose New York City-based radio show features sexually explicit talk and off-color humor.

“Clear Channel has now formally admitted that it violated the law and has made binding commitments to clean up its act,” Powell said.

Stern has railed against the FCC, saying its crackdown on indecency threatens free speech rights and that he’s been targeted because of his opposition to President Bush.

The agreement settles a $495,000 fine proposed by the FCC against San Antonio-based Clear Channel for remarks Stern made in an April 2003 broadcast. That show was carried on six of Clear Channel’s 1,200-plus stations.

The settlement also covers several dozen open investigations and pending cases stemming from listener complaints lodged against shows on Clear Channel stations.

FCC Commissioner Michael Copps, one of two Democrats on the five-member FCC, voted against the settlement and criticized the decision as not punitive enough.

“Citizens have a right to expect commission follow-through on their complaints,” Copps said. “Today a majority decides that, rather than investigate these pending complaints or even seek information about these broadcasts as part of the settlement discussions, it will wipe the slate clean for Clear Channel.”

After the FCC proposed slapping fines on Clear Channel for Stern’s show, the company yanked him from its six stations that aired him. He is still heard on dozens of Infinity’s stations.


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