FCC Drops Fine Over Eminem Song
The Federal Communications Commission dropped a fine levied against a Pueblo, Colorado radio station for playing an edited version of Eminem’s hit “The Real Slim Shady.”
On May 31st, 2001, the FCC hit KKMG-FM, part of the Citadel Broadcasting Company, with a $7,000 fine after a listener complained that the song contained profanity. The version that KKMG played was an edit cut for radio, but at the time, the FCC claimed that the edit was still considered indecent under its guidelines, as it contained references to sexual activity, which violated U.S. law.
The FCC specifically cited the following passages as objectionable: “My bum is on your lips/My bum is on your lips/And if I’m lucky you might just give it a little kiss/And that’s the message we deliver to little kids And expect them not to know what a woman’s [lyric bleeped] is/Of course, they’re gonna know what intercourse is” and “It’s funny cause at the rate I’m goin’/When I’m thirty I’ll be the only person in the nursing home flirting/Pinching nurses asses when I’m [lyric bleeped] or jerkin’/Said I’m jerkin’ but this whole bag of Viagra isn’t workin’.”
KKMG immediately appealed the fine. According to Bobby Irwin, the Operations Manager for Citadel, the station has a blanket policy prohibiting indecent material. “KKMG was satisfied that the edited version of the song, which deletes potentially offensive language either by muting objectionable words, or by inserting a bleep over them, was not indecent,” he said at the time. The music industry also lashed out against the FCC. Def Jam Records founder Russell Simmons called the fine “wrong and unconstitutional” and “a blatant act of censorship.”
In the new order, issued on January 7th by David H. Solomon, Chief of the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau, the commission said that the edited version of the song still contained sexual references but that they were too oblique to fall under the FCC’s Indecency Policy guidelines. “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,” Solomon wrote. “Accordingly, we conclude that the licensee did not violate the applicable statute or our indecency rule, and that no sanction is warranted.”
Last year, a Wisconsin radio station was also hit with a $7,000 fine for playing the unedited version of the song, a fine which was paid without appeal.