A Pueblo, Colorado radio station was slapped with a $7,000 fine on May 31st for airing “indecent language,” in the form of an edited version of Eminem’s “The Real Slim Shady,” which the Federal Communications Commission still deemed objectionable.
Though a Madison, Wisconsin radio station was fined the same amount for airing the song earlier this year, in that instance the airing was of the unedited cut. The version that KKMG-FM, part of the Citadel Broadcasting Company, aired was the edited cut provided by the rapper’s label, a version of the song that saturated radio airwaves last summer, when it was a chart-topping single. The complaint that prompted the fine was actually filed in July of last year, when the song was at the height of its popularity.
According to Bobby Irwin, Operations Manager for Citadel, the company received a letter of inquiry from the FCC this past March, which referenced the July 2000 complaint. The inquiry included a transcript of the version of “The Real Slim Shady” that appeared on Eminem’s The Marshall Mathers LP, rather than the radio edit. “KKMG at no time aired the ‘CD album’ version of the song,” Irwin wrote in a statement. “Any and all plays of ‘The Real Slim Shady’ were a ‘clean version’ radio edit of the song, supplied to us by Eminem’s record company. We have a policy prohibiting the broadcast of indecent material. Upon review, 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 then, was not indecent.”
On June 1st, Citadel received a notice from the FCC claiming that the edited version of the song was still considered indecent under the FCC’s guidelines. According to Irwin’s statement, the song has been removed from the station’s playlist and KKMG plans to appeal the FCC’s ruling within a thirty-day response period.
Meanwhile, the fine drew outrage from some members of the music industry. “The attacks from the mainstream on the hip-hop community’s First Amendment right to have freedom of speech are wrong and unconstitutional,” said Def Jam Records founder Russell Simmons. “In this country’s past, no matter how differing the points of view on various issues have been, we have worked hard to not place infringements on our democratic right to express. The U.S. government has never crossed that line. The hip-hop community, no all of America, should be outraged at this blatant act of censorship on our brother Eminem.”