Wednesday, November 11, 2009

CATO on Fairness Doctrine II

This is my 300th post here at the Notepad, and I could not have found a more appropriate topic than what I consider a looming attempt by the federal government to institute policies via the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that I am convinced are going to ultimately result in the stifling of dissent on our nation's airwaves - and specifically in the area of talk radio, the one medium the Marxist left does not (yet) control.

Via the CATO Institute:
Civil libertarians feared that a change of administrations would herald a revived Fairness Doctrine, a policy that previously permitted the government to oversee broadcast news coverage for "balanced views." A return to the Fairness Doctrine, however, now seems unlikely. It is very likely, however, that politicians from both the left and the right will try to extend government control over the media beyond current policies. New rules adopted or proposed by the Federal Communications Commission suggest that the agency may be poised to enforce the most intensive government oversight of broadcast programming in decades—perhaps even in the history of the agency. The FCC voted last year to require each broadcast licensee to file quarterly "enhanced disclosure" reports—highly detailed information regarding its programming and editorial choices. This information will be used by organized groups to file complaints to pressure broadcasters to air programming that the complainants prefer. The FCC is also formulating programming guidelines based on the enhanced disclosure reports purporting to ensure that broadcasters meet local needs. This "broadcast localism" effort may also require broadcasters to appoint local boards to oversee their performance and their editorial decisions. As the FCC seeks to expand regulation of broadcast media, the traditional justification for its authority—spectrum scarcity—has lost credibility, and the agency's new efforts are likely to run afoul of the First Amendment.
You will find the original CATO Institute article here.

Here is the PDF of their policy analysis:
Fairness 2.0: Media Content Regulation in the 21st Century, Cato Policy Analysis No. 651

As I see it, the FCC has only one responsibility, and that is to ensure that radio frequencies do not step on each other. Anything beyond that, and they are going too far.

I am not at all comfortable with the federal government involving itself in media content in any way, as that is something that tyrannical governments have always tried to do.

Shame on us if we stay on the couch and let this happen.


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When liberty is taken away by force it can be restored by force. When it is relinquished voluntarily by default it can never be recovered. -Dorothy Thompson