Brian Maloney at Radio Equalizer warns that Barack Obama is signaling his designs on conservative talk radio with the rumored appointment of former FCC Commissioner Henry Rivera as the head of his FCC transition team:
Henry Rivera, a longtime radical leftist, lawyer and former FCC commissioner, is expected to lead the push to dismantle commercial talk radio that is favored by a number of Democratic Party senators. Rivera will play a pivotal role in preventing critics from having a public voice during Obama's tenure in office.
Rivera, who resigned from the FCC nearly a quarter-century ago during the Reagan years, believes in a doctrine of "communications policy as a civil rights issue".
His exit during the Reagan Administration paved the way for the Fairness Doctrine's repeal when the late president appointed Patricia Diaz Dennis in 1986 to fill out the rest of Rivera's term. Had this not occurred, talk radio as we know it today would not exist.
That gives Rivera's new task a great deal of personal urgency: it's a late-career, second chance opportunity to shut down opposition voices that have been allowed to flourish since his depature from the commission.
In particular, Rivera is known for his push for more minority broadcasting ownership, but this issue has largely been rendered obsolete as former commercial broadcasting empires teeter on the brink of bankruptcy.
Rivera's first opportunity to eliminate commercial talk radio will occur in June 2009, as the term of Republican Robert McDowell expires and he can be replaced with a pro-Fairness Doctrine Democrat. That will give the commission a three-vote Democratic majority, though the final two seats must remain in Republican hands.
If they can strong-arm one of the three Republicans into leaving early, this can be implemented even sooner.
Keep reading. Brian also reports that executives at Air America radio think of the Fairness Doctrine as a boon for them.