Elections have consequences. In the realm of media regulation, the 2008 election meant increased influence for proponents of so-called media "localism." The increased influence of localism at the FCC bore itself out in the recently-approved Comcast/NBC merger.
As a hypothetical, "localism" is relatively innocent. But in practice, it essentially amounts to a back-door mechanism for media regulation, which is why the FCC's most left-wing member, Michael Copps, has been an outspoken advocate of localism as part of his proposed "public value test."
Is Federal Communications Commissioner Michael Copps trying to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine through what he calls a "public value test" for broadcasters? The short answer is no, and Copps is adamant about that point. He points out that while the Fairness Doctrine regulated political speech by mandating equal time for all views on a given topic, the "public value test" will only require that broadcasters serve the "public interest", whatever that may be.
Copps is correct in a narrow sense. The federal government will not be policing political opinions. It will simply be ensuring that content meets a standard for public value.
What Copps fails to grasp is that "public value" is such a subjective term that it is almost unavoidable for political factors to play into a determination of whether or not certain content satisfies the definition. In other words, there is not official regulation of political speech, but such speech will almost surely be regulated indirectly.
In a Wednesday interview on BBC World News America, liberal FCC Commissioner Michael Copps told correspondent Katty Kay: "I think American media has a bad case of substance abuse right now....we are going to be pretty close to denying our citizens the essential news and information that they need to have in order to make intelligent decisions about the future direction of their country."
As TVNewser reported on Thursday, after Kay asked about instituting a "Public Value Test" of media outlets, Copps replied: "What we've had in recent years is an aberration where we have had no oversight of the media. For years and years we had some public interest guidelines...they agreed to serve the public interest and that public interest to me right now is crying 'news and information, news and information, news and information.'"
The petition in part "urge(s) members of Obama's Federal Communications Commission (the FCC) and everyone in Washington to reject any and all efforts to censor, limit, or restrain conservative or Christian talk radio."
Mr. Bozell also discusses the MRC's Four Day Call-A-Thon to the offices of Speaker Pelosi and Leader Reid - which is taking place right now and runs through close of business Thursday - where MRC Action Team members, many, MANY members of the FSA and a whole host of individual radio stations and hosts are having their grassroots/members/listeners place calls to their offices demanding a full, fair stand-alone vote on the Broadcaster Freedom Act (BFA), which would prohibit the FCC from reimposing the Censorship Doctrine, also mis-known as the "Fairness" Doctrine.
And we are asking you to join in the festivities. Please, in true Chicago voting fashion, call early and often. Speaker Pelosi's number is (202) 225-4965, and Leader Reid's is (202) 224-3542.
We humbly suggest you say something along the lines of:
Acting Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Michael Copps insists that the so-called Fairness Doctrine is "long gone" and "not coming back." But liberal legislators such as socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and former Democratic presidential aspirants Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) and Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) have recently called for a return of the anti-free speech.
That's why Media Research Center (MRC) President and NewsBusters Publisher Brent Bozell is calling on FCC Chairman Copps to call for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to bring the Broadcaster Freedom Act to the floor for an up-or-down vote:
When this many high-powered elected officials are calling for a return of the mis-named ‘Fairness’ Doctrine, and are actively opposing a vote on the bill to prevent the FCC from reinstating it, it isn’t a conspiracy theory. It’s a determination to shut down free speech on talk radio.
The solution is simple: Chairman Copps should call on Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid to allow a full, fair stand alone vote on the Broadcaster Freedom Act. That way we will know once and for all how each member of Congress thinks – are they for free speech, or are they for the ‘Fairness’ Doctrine?
The May 19 press release is available at MRC.org and is excerpted in full below:
The Left's Idea of Diversity
President Barack Obama's Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has released the names of the thirty-one members of their Advisory Committee On Diversity For Communications In The Digital Age. This May 7 gathering is made up of a laundry list of left-wing grievance groups, with a smattering of radio and television companies included to break up the monotony.
Not a single conservative organization is taking part in this Commission - more than a dozen Leftist groups are. A little ironic for a "diversity" panel, is it not?
Chairing the meeting is Henry Rivera, a former FCC Commissioner who was (and presumably still is) a strong proponent of the Censorship Doctrine, also mis-known as the "Fairness" Doctrine.
Many, many liberals in Washington have over the last several years called for a reinstatement of the Doctrine. But push-back from people who have read and actually understand the First Amendment led the Left to realize that the political price to bring it back was too high, so they MovedOn.org.
Of course, their desire to silence the lone voices of their opposition had not lessened in the slightest. They're still just as dictatorial, just pragmatically so.