Monday, August 17, 2009

The Unfairness Doctrine Endrun

I want to talk about something that scares me even more than the socialized health insurance issue. In late July, while everyone was focused on healthcare and the town halls, a man by the name of Mark Lloyd became the Chief Diversity Officer of the Federal Communications Commission. This is yet another Obama czar, who wasn’t confirmed by the Senate. Mr. Lloyd was a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress focusing on communications policy issues, including universal service, advanced telecommunications deployment, media concentration and diversity. He was also in the Clinton White House.
Lloyd has called for making private broadcasting companies pay licensing fees equal to their total operating costs to allow public broadcasting outlets to spend the same on their operations as the private companies do. This policy would essentially take all the profit out of running a private radio station. The purpose of this according to supporters, is to promote diversity and pay for educational programming by revamping the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which is a non-profit entity created by Congress. In fiscal 2009 it received $400 million from the government. Lloyd believes, and I quote, “This funding should come from license fees charged to commercial broadcasters. Funding should not come from congressional appropriations. Sponsorship should be prohibited at all public broadcasters.” He also believes in regulating content on both public and private broadcast stations.
The result of all this government intervention would be a stifling of free speech on the airwaves. In particular conservative talk radio, which has dominated much of A.M. radio over the past couple of decades. The liberals realized that they couldn’t get the so-called “Fairness Doctrine” passed in Congress, so they’re making an end run around the Congress. The goal? To silence people like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin and other conservatives that have been successful not only financially, but in swaying public opinion on such things as last year’s “Comprehensive Immigration Reform”, “Cap and Trade” and of course the current healthcare debate.
I disagree with Mr. Lloyd’s policies which I feel are an unconstitutional violation of the First Amendment and which are clearly anti-capitalist. The airwaves belong to the people of this nation. Clearly the success of Rush, Levin and Hannity have shown that the people like these programs. And sponsors like advertising on these successful programs. By contrast, the failure of “Air America”, which was heavily funded by George Soros and featured such luminaries as Al Franken and Janeane Garofalo, would indicate that the American people don’t like what they’re peddling. There are at least a couple of liberal talk show hosts that have been successful, Alan Colmes probably being the best known. Colmes has said publicly that he opposes the Fairness Doctrine, so I would have to assume he would like Mr. Lloyd’s approach even less.
I have already personally written to my congressman, Florida Senator Bill Nelson and President Obama to urge them not to allow these policies to be enacted. I’ve also written to Mark Lloyd himself at the FCC to express my opposition. I would urge each of you to do the same and to encourage your friends and family as well. If this is allowed to happen, it will only be the beginning. How long before they’re taxing and regulating the Internet? How long before a show like the one you’re listening to is impossible to air?This is the sort of thing you’d expect to see in Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela or Castro’s Cuba, not in the United States of America. If it goes forward, then dissent against any government policy or administration will be stifled in a chilling way that can’t be allowed in a free republic.

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