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FCC Orders Broadcasters To Ban Pro-Drug Songs

By Samuel Z. Goldhaber

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has ordered the nation's broadcasters to stop airing songs and spoken selections whose lyries tend "to promote or glorify the use of illegal drugs."

Under the order, stations which do not comply may lose their licenses. The five-to-one decision, reached on February 24, was not announced until Saturday. The FCC stated, "In short, we expect broadcast licensees to ascertain, before broadcast, the words or lyrics of recorded musical or spoken selections played on their stations."

Nicholas Johnson, the dissenting commissioner, said the FCC's decision is "an unconstitutional action by a Federal agency aimed clearly at controlling the content of speech."

Johnson said he hopes that "the recording and broadcasting industries will have the courage and commitment to respond to this brazen attack upon them with all the enthusiasm it calls for." He added, "Given the power of this commission, I am afraid they may not."

Station managers who were interviewed yesterday said they do not plan on changing their current methods of selecting songs.

Harvard radio station WHRB played yesterday Bob Dylan's "Rainy Day Women Numbers 12 and 35" and "Euphoria" by the Holy Modal Rounders.

Edward J. Belove '72, station manager for WHRB, said, "It strikes me as censorship. I don't see how it can be legal."

Belove said the WHRB's policy will not change. "Our only criterion for whether we air a song is its artistic value," he said. "Being a small station, we don't have to worry much about these things."

He predicted that the FCC will "neverbe able to decide what constitutes promoting the use of drugs."

Mel A. Phillips, program director for WRKO, said his station has no plans for changing its song selection policy. "It's censorship," he said. "I don't think it's fair at all."

Asked how effective the FCC order will be, Phillips said. "If you're running a radio station and face loss of license or a $5000 fine. I could see where many radio stations would be selective."

Phillips said that the FCC might "make example of two or three key stations. But knowing the FCC, this could happen five years from now."

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