Tsunami Song: Imminent Danger?

An FCC spokeswoman on Monday told the Voice the agency has received "a number" of comments about the Hot 97 tsunami song, but refuses to say how many, because there's a difference between "comments," like "I didn't like what I heard last Wednesday," and "complaints." She adds that it only takes one complaint to trigger an FCC review. However, she won't confirm that the commission is reviewing the Hot 97 case.

Last week I mentioned that the FCC's limited mandate might prevent it from doing anything about the song (and given that pesky First Amendment, that's probably a good thing). Today the FCC flack pointed me to two cases from 2004 that reinforce those doubts.

One case involved three radio stations that were accused of inciting violence against bicyclists. The second concerned Boston radio host Jay Severin, who in April 2004 said, "I believe that Muslims in this country are a fifth column. . . . You believe that we should befriend them. I think we should kill them."

In both cases, the FCC said that the incidents do not "warrant enforcement action prior to an adjudication by a court of competent jurisdiction that the broadcast posed a 'clear and present danger.' "

It's hard to see how the tsunami song could be construed as threatening or endorsing violence. Racially-tinged and in bad taste? Yes. Clear and present danger? Hmmmm.


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