Free Speech X-Press Delivering Weekly Censorship Updates to the Adult Industry
SENATE TELECOM BILL UPDATE
Vol. VIII, No. 32, June 30, 2006 — A Member Service of the Free Speech Coalition
Free Speech X-press is researched and edited by Layne Winklebleck.
Copyright 2006 Free Speech Coalition. Permission to reprint granted to FSC members; please give credit.
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WASHINGTON, DC — The Senate Commerce Committee has voted to send a broad telecommunications bill — the “Communications, Consumer’s Choice, and Broadband Deployment Act” — to the full Senate for a vote. A range of issues are included in the bill, including money for emergency communications, unlicensed wireless devices in the broadcast band, labels for analog TV sets, digital TV and radio content protection and more. In addition, several measures of direct importance to the adult industry are included, or in one instance, not included in the bill, as reflected in the following reports.
See the FSC website for a longer version of these reports related to the telecom bill.
BILL INCLUDES LABELING FOR SEXUAL MATERIALS
Attached to the Senate telecom bill is a requirement that commercial Web sites must not place "sexually explicit material" on their home pages upon pain of felony prosecution — and, in addition, they must rate "each page or screen of the website that does contain sexually explicit material" with a system to be devised by the Federal Trade Commission. This part of the bill is in the form of a seven-page amendment by Senator Conrad Burns (R-MT) and is virtually identical to S3499 , a bill introduced earlier by Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ). Both the Burns amendment and S3499 provide for penalties of up to 5 years in prison for non-compliance with the labeling requirements. ( In an earlier FSC report we quoted CNET News to the effect that the bill carried a 15-year prison sentence. However, CNET News subsequently amended their report.)
The Burns amendment gives Attorney General Alberto Gonzales what he asked for in April when he proposed a legislative initiative, including mandatory self-rating for commercial adult Internet websites. (See X-Press Report, “Justice Proposes Legislation,” 4/21/06).
TELECOM BILL FALLS SHORT ON NET NEUTRALITY
The “Communications, Consumer’s Choice, and Broadband Deployment Act” does not include protections for net neutrality. Democratic amendments to protect net neutrality failed to obtain a majority in the Committee by a vote of 11-11. However, the battle over net neutrality is not over yet. It is by no means clear that there are enough votes on the floor of the Senate to overcome a filibuster and Senator Ron Wyden has placed a hold on the telecom bill, an informal action which represents a possible intention to filibuster.
“Without a clear policy preserving the neutrality of the Internet and without tough sanctions against those who would discriminate, the Internet will be forever changed for the worse,” said Wyden. “Without net neutrality protections, this bill is bad news for consumers and anyone who today enjoys unlimited access to all of the Net’s applications, service and content.”
The question for adult entertainment, of course, is whether the telecom giants can be trusted when it comes to controversial forms of Internet speech. On the positive side, the “Communications, Consumer’s Choice, and Broadband Deployment Act” does include the “ Internet Consumer Bill of Rights,” which was added by Committee Chair Ted Stevens (R-AK) and which may help against overt censorship of adult entertainment. ( See our earlier FSC report). But the Internet Consumer Bill of Rights relies on the Federal Communications Commission for oversight and enforcement. That is hardly reassuring, judging from the abominable FCC record in recent years of pandering to right-wing groups when it comes to broadcast indecency.
Senator Wyden quotes are from Earevolution.com, 6/29/06
See also, Anne Broache and Declan McCullagh, CNET News, 6/28/06
A LA CARTE PROPOSAL LOSES IN COMMITTEE
An a la carte cable programming amendment co-sonsored by Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) was also considered in the flurry of proposals and amendments to the telecom bill, and was defeated 20-2. The amendment would have denied certain streamlined video franchising to video service providers that did not offer their programming per-channel, and it would have denied broadcast-flag protection to TV stations that did not allow their channels to be offered as stand-alones.
Cable network advertising sales division executives are probably breathing a collective sigh of relief, suggested Media Post reporter Wayne Friedman. However, according to Broadcasting & Cable commentator John Eggerton, the committee’s thoughts on the measure were more mixed that it may have appeared based on the 20-2 vote (with only the sponsors voting aye). Committee Chair Stevens said he "believed in some a la carte," and said that he thought it would eventually come.
See the FSC website for a longer version of these reports related to the telecom bill.
COUNTY THROWS THE BOOK AT ADULT GROUP
PENSACOLA, FL — Ray Guhn, the owner of Global Technology Productions — an adult production company with related websites — as well as Kevin Stevens, a producer and website technician, and Andrew Craft, General Manager for the company, have been arrested here, apparently simply for producing adult entertainment and selling subscriptions on affiliated websites, although the charges list racketeering, prostitution and sale of obscene materials. More arrests are pending, according to Florida State Attorney Bill Eddins.
Escambia County Sheriff Ron McNesby said that the arrests reflect the area’s “values,” and are designed to send a message.
“We want people to know that we don’t want this kind of activity in our community,” said McNesby.
T he arrests highlight once more the capricious and irrational nature of law enforcement when it comes to adult entertainment. Media accounts do not indicate that the websites in question, which included CumOnHerFace.com, LesbianHangout.com and BustyTramps.com, were outside the mainstream of adult entertainment.
"It’s extremely confusing,” said Tom Julin, a Miami First Amendment attorney."You see so much sexual content on cable channels and the Internet. Why has there not been a prosecution of HBO?"
Information is from Troy Moon, Pensacola News Journal, 6/26/06
And from Chrissy Cresswell, Pensacola News Journal, 6/27/06
PLEA BARGAIN ON OBSCENITY CHARGES
SHREVEPORT, LA — Daniel Smart, who ran a successful business as a distributor of adult videos through mail-order (by Federal Express) and through his online business, Cybertainment — until he was arrested last summer on federal and state charges of obscenity, mail fraud, tax evasion and money laundering — has pleaded guilty in federal court to obscenity charges. Smart came to the attention of law enforcement when someone e-mailed state police after recognizing an actress in a video that depicted a murder. The anonymous source feared the actress was in real danger and police investigated. After learning that the actress had not, in fact, been killed in the video and was not in danger, the investigation was nonetheless continued and eventually expanded into a mini-taskforce that included Customs agents due to the worldwide distribution of allegedly obscene materials. Reportedly, among the videos distributed were some featuring bestiality. Smart faces up to five years in prison when he goes for sentencing in October.
Some information is from the Shreveport Times, 6/27/06
See also a story at a local news channel KTBS.
BAN ON PRIVATE EXOTIC DANCE ROOMS PROPOSED
SAN FRANCISCO, CA — The Commission on the Status of Women here has passed a measure calling for increased regulation of exotic dance clubs by requiring clubs to obtain permits and by banning private rooms which are not visible to people in the club or readily accessible. Clubs would have to meet a strict criterion of regulations before being issued a permit and would be reviewed annually to make sure dancers were working in a safe environment.
The Commission has been studying the issue since 2004, and a spokesperson says that they have heard testimony from dancers about being forced by owners into unlawful sexual acts with customers in private rooms. The situation has allegedly created an environment of “pimping and prostituting” at some clubs, according to some dancers.
The issue is a longstanding one, going back at least to 1998, when a Bay Guardian expose by Kerwin Brook was published with the headline: “Peep Show Pimps… Are Some of S.F.’s Strip Clubs Forcing their Employees into Prostitution?” A brouhaha ensued which split the sex communities in San Francisco and turned dancer against dancer as well. Stage fees, which are assessed dancers (who are sometimes viewed as independent contractors) in some clubs, became an issue. Private rooms became an issue. Whether dancers are properly categorized as independent contractors became an issue. Some dancers, in some clubs, claimed that high stage fees forced them to engage in acts of prostitution in order to continue working. Other dancers claimed that they were very happy with the nature of their work, that they did not have to do prostitution, and that they liked the freedom and independence of the dancer occupation.
The new proposal, which is designed to protect dancers from illegal labor practices and from being forced into prostitution, needs to be approval by the Board of Supervisors before taking effect.
Some information is from Sajid Farooq, The S.F. Examiner, 6/29/06
Background information is from Yours Truly, who, as former Editor of Spectator Magazine in the Bay Area, followed the issue closely.
OTHER NEWS OF THE WEEK
The City of Los Angeles is pulling out of the controversial "Hooters for Neuters" bikini contest, in which the popular restaurant chain had agreed to help raise money for the Department of Animal Services.
Respected sexual science researcher and historian Vern Bullough has died after a brief illness.
AOL, EarthLink, Microsoft, United Online and Yahoo, are pledging $1 million in cash and technical assistance to develop technology that can "detect and disrupt the distribution of known images of child exploitation" on the Internet.
The Rancho Santa Margarita, CA, City Council has voted 5-0 for an interim ordinance regulating adult businesses.
Three exotic dancers in Charleston, SC, face charges of lewd acts onstage.
Bob Tremont Golf Tournament
The Gala 19th Annual Night of the Stars Awards Show
The 6th Annual Bob Tremont Golf Tournament
(See Calendar below for dates and locations)
TICKETS AND SPONSORSHIPS
Event Sponsor – $2,000 (Foursome, Hole Sponsorship & additional recognition
Foursome & Hole Sponsor – $1,300
Foursome – $1,000
Hole Sponsor – $500
Individual Ticket – $260
19th Annual Night of the Stars Awards
Event Sponsor – $5,000
Program Sponsor – $3,000
Table Sponsor – $1,500
Individual Tickets $200
Ten Tickets $1,800
2006 Night of the Stars Nominees
Lifetime Achievement Award, Actress: Jill Kelly:
Lifetime Achievement Award, Actor: Marcus Spencer (aka Mr. Marcus)
Lifetime Achievement Award, Director: To Be Announced
Lifetime Achievement Award, Gay Actor: Michael Brandon
Lifetime Achievement Award, Gay Director: John Rutherford
The Good Guy Award: Bob Pyne, Sr.
The Positive Image Award: To Be Announced
The Advocate Award: Angelina Spencer (ACE)
The Freedom isn’t Free Award: Dave Cummings, New Beginnings and Peekay
For application materials or additional information, contact Valerie Vizmanos or Michelle Freridge by email or at 818-348-9373
JUN 27 – JUL 1 — AASECT Annual Conference, St. Louis, MO
JUL 9-12 — Desiree Conference, Las Vegas, NV
JUL 12-14 — XBiz Summer, Las Vegas, NV
JUL 15 — Night of the Stars, L.A. Center Studios, L.A., CA
JUL 16 — Bob Tremont Golf Tournament (1 PM Shotgun), Braemar Country Club, Tarzana, CA
JUL 17-19 — Adult Novelty Expo, Universal City, CA
JUL 19-22 — Lifestyles West, Las Vegas Stardust
JUL 15-22 — Gay Games, Chicago IL
JUL 26 – AUG 5 — Outgames, Montreal, Canada
AUG 4-6 — Internext Summer 2006, Hollywood, FL
AUG 22-24 — Gentlemen’s Club Owners Expo, Las Vegas, NV
AUG 25-28 — Erotica Expo, New Zealand
SEPT 4 — West Coast Rubber, Palm Springs, CA
SEPT 9-10 — Gay Erotic Expo, L.A., CA
SEPT 24 — Folsom Street Fair, San Francisco, CA
SEPT 23-24 — Adultcon 11, Los Angeles Convention Center
SEPT 25-27 — AVN Industry Summit, Palm Springs, CA
OCT 7 — Arizona FetishBall,Scottsdale, AZ
See our website calendar for a more complete listing of events.
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Contact us at Layne@inreach.com or 1-800-476-7813.