Whether you like it or not, the FCC now says the radio edit of Eminem's "The Real Slim Shady" is neither indecent nor offensive.
On Tuesday, the Federal Communications Commission rescinded the $7,000 fine it issued against Pueblo, Colorado, radio station KKMG-FM and its parent company, Citadel Broadcasting Company, for playing an edited version of the Eminem single. The decision effectively puts a stake in the heart of a free-speech imbroglio the FCC initiated last June.
FCC Chief of Enforcement David H. Solomon issued a statement saying that the FCC "disagree[s] with our initial analysis, and we now conclude that the material at issue was not patently offensive under contemporary community standards ... accordingly, we conclude that the licensee did not violate the applicable statute or our indecency rule, and that no sanction is warranted."
The FCC did not always feel that way. Last June, the bureau pursued an indecency complaint filed by a KKMG listener nearly a year earlier. The FCC concluded that the radio edit of "The Real Slim Shady" was "patently offensive as measured by contemporary community standards" and that it contained "unmistakable offensive sexual references ... that appear intended to pander and shock" despite being edited by both Citadel and Eminem's label, Interscope Records. The FCC subsequently issued the fine for "willfully broadcasting indecent language" (see "Eminem's 'The Real Slim Shady' (Clean Version) Not Clean Enough For FCC").
Citadel and KKMG immediately made moves to appeal the decision in federal court, and the FCC fine also prompted an immediate outcry from musicians, radio programmers and First Amendment activists who worried that the FCC was initiating a campaign to redefine indecency on the radio. Russell Simmons, who held his inaugural Hip-Hop Summit less than a week after the fine was issued, chose to make indecency a central talking point of his conference, even inviting FCC chief Michael Powell to attend (see "Russell Simmons Calling On Puffy, Wyclef To Inspire Creativity"). All that has been put to rest for now.
While Eminem himself had no comment, a spokesperson for Interscope said that the label is pleased with the decision.