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Thursday, October 27, 2011

RED ALERT: Just in time for 2012 election, FCC preparing to launch stealth 'Fairness Doctrine'

Yesterday, our broadcast industry tipster alerted us to a bizarre, FCC-directed national broadcast test (see "Exactly one year before the 2012 election, Obama FCC schedules first-ever nationwide test of emergency broadcast system").

Today, Ten Mile Island gives us more ominous information:

The FCC is expected to issue a proposal tomorrow (today) which will, if adopted, require broadcasters to provide much more detailed information and reports on the programming they air.

Instead of quarterly 'Issues/Program Lists' (which already viewed as an unduly burdensome requirement and seldom if ever used by the public) the FCC is looking to have stations fill out a new and more complicated form which would be posted on the stations’ websites.

The program reporting requirement would require a station to glean programming information based on two composite weeks per quarter (presumably selected by the FCC) and insert the results of their analysis into a form which would then be posted on the station website. In addition to the new programming information, all of the required data maintained in the station’s political file would also have to be posted on the website.

Not only will the web site posting requirement be labor intensive (particularly for small market stations) but they will reveal any required programming postings and other filings which fail to meet the various filing deadlines for required information. The newly proposed rules would also provide easy access to opponents and protest groups to gather information for petitions to deny and complaints to challenge license renewals and any other applications filed by the stations.

Our government masters will require us to be suitably engaged in social justice.

In other words, just in time for the 2012 elections, the FCC will help accelerate license challenges against "uncooperative" radio stations: namely, those stations that feature conservative talk radio.

Just before Barack Obama took his oath of office, Jim Boulet Jr. warned us that efforts like these are designed to supplant the Orwellian "Fairness Doctrine". It's not that progressives gave up trying to censor free speech when they dropped their push for "Fairness", it's that they're using more underhanded tactics to do so. Tactics like "localism":

Remember that an FCC license is required for any radio or television station to legally operate in the United States. A single complaint from anyone can significantly hinder a station's license renewal process or even cost the station its FCC license entirely...

These random efforts could be far more effective at silencing conservatives if they could only be systematized and institutionalized. That is exactly what the FCC proposed on January 24th. Every radio and television station would be required to create:

[P]ermanent advisory boards comprised of local officials and other community leaders, to periodically advise them of local needs and issues, and seek comment on the matter. ...

To ensure that these discussions include representatives of all community elements, these boards would be made up of leaders of various segments of the community, including underserved groups.


The "community advisory board as permanent complaint department" model may well be based upon the 1995 revisions of the Community Reinvestment Act [that helped touch off the mortgage meltdown].

If you think this administration is simply going to let conservative pundits like Mark Levin, Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh exercise their First Amendment rights without an ACORN-style fight, well, I've got a nice condo in Vegas I'd like to sell you.


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