New Civilization News: Bringing Back the Fairness Doctrine    
 Bringing Back the Fairness Doctrine19 comments
picture6 Oct 2007 @ 20:17, by Paul Quintanilla

Now that the Democrats control the Congress the possibility of reinstating the Fairness Doctrine has been raised.

By Democrats, of course. And by liberals and those who feel mute and unheard today over the nation’s airwaves on the left. Certainly not by the rightwing.

When Ronald Reagan was president he put an end to the Fairness Doctrine by simply signing an executive order. Handing the nation’s airwaves (which are the property of the American people) over to corporate America was that simple.

The rightwing’s reaction to the proposal to bring the Fairness Doctrine back was predictable. Indeed inevitable, for they have much to lose.

Those corporate and rightwing interests who currently control the nation’s radio airwaves have let out a mighty howl of indignant protest. And they have all leapt upon the easy and quite accessible argument that reinstating the Fairness Doctrine would be an all out assault on free speech. That it would be an attempt to muzzle their Constitutional right to speak freely, unimpaired, unmolested by government, over the public airwaves.

But an honest glance beneath the surface of these arguments should reveal these complaints are actually fundamentally hypocritical and self-serving. For if the far right, which controls nearly all the nation’s radio airwaves, were truly interested in the principal of “free speech” they would welcome a diversity of opinions. Which is, after all, what the Fairness Doctrine requires. Diversity. The idea being that a well informed citizenry should be exposed to many different points of view, facts and ideas. Not just to those opinions which promote one particular faction, that currently being today, on nearly all the nation’s radio stations, predominantly the far right.

Yes, there may be some disagreement among rightwing talk jocks: but this is usually one faction on the right merely disagreeing with another, without any other viewpoint from the broad spectrum genuinely included. What’s more, opposing progressive points of view are routinely defined by the right so that those opinions are not only excluded but presented to the listening public within a rightwing framework. This hardly constitutes diversity. Nor is it at all fair if the left is denied equal time to reply and truly present its own “unshaped” arguments. Which rarely, very rarely, happens on rightwing talk radio.

What’s more, those opposing the Doctrine’s reinstatement confuse free speech with corporate controlled speech. There is a difference, and an important one. For those who defend the corporate monopoly of the airwaves, as it today exists, equate the “free marketplace” with “free speech.”

For that speech which is currently offered over most of America’s airwaves is merely profit driven and motivated. Nor is it shaped by any basic philosophical principals regarding “the free exchange of ideas.”

Let’s at least be honest about that. For it is primarily the far right and powerful corporate interests which oppose the return of the Fairness Doctrine. In itself, free speech is not their primary concern. It is holding onto their corporate control, profits, and power. That is what they fear losing. And that is what they are fighting for: not free speech.

Some would say that corporate ownership is actually reflective of true freedom of speech. That corporate owners and a monopolistic rightwing have a right to dominate and control the airwaves simply because they own them. That the equipment, the stations, the property the stations sit on belong to them. And that therefore they have a right to do whatever they please with their own private property: allowing whoever they want through the door, keeping everyone else out.

But the simple truth is that corporate profit and intellectual debate are two very different things. And that in a free, well-informed society the former interest should not guide and determine the latter, more important interest. The airwaves belong to us, the American people, and the current emphasis on private sovereignty of the airwaves should be reversed and changed. For free speech in a monopolistic corporate environment can not exist.

When Enlightenment philosophers argued for the “free exchange of ideas” they weren’t arguing for corporate ownership, or dominance, or a strict monopoly on any one side. That being the one with the most money and merely profit driven. And the Fairness Doctrine has always reflected the Founder’s original democratic point of view. I would hope that if matters were reversed, and the left enjoyed a stranglehold on the nation’s airwaves, they would allow equal access to the rightwing and other divergent points of view. For under such conditions the Fairness Doctrine would be equally applicable and valid. It sponsors free speech and debate. That is what matters.

Yes, if the Doctrine is brought back in all likelihood there will be a great change in what’s heard on the air. And many of the current rightwing talk stations will switch formats, reverting, perhaps, to music, rather than allowing a balanced diversity of opinions to take up time - “market time” - on the air. Some rightwing talk jocks will lose their jobs and their corporate employers will fear a substantial loss of profits. That is why their struggle against the Fairness Doctrine has been so fierce. And will continue to be fierce.

Here in Providence, Rhode Island, where I live, there is not one radio station, not one program on the local airwaves (this within the hub of “liberal” New England) which can even be regarded as a voice for the Democratic Party, not to mention progressives, liberals, Greens or leftists of one kind or another. And nearly all the voices which enter my house over various radio stations are not merely Republican, but the far right. “Conservative,” as they like to call themselves. And these voices, which would like to be perceived as representing the American “mainstream,” include the likes of Rush Limbough, Melanie Morgan, Sean Hannity, Michael Savage, Mark Levin, Laura Ingraham, Matthew Drudge, Quinn and Rose, to name only a few of the better known. True, occasionally a “progressive” voice can be heard, but this is within a very vast sea of rightwing talk. And it continues unabated twenty four hours a day.

Would it bring the world to an end if there were at least one dissenting peep in all this daily, nightly, roundtheclock chorus of the far right? They enjoy a near complete monopoly now. Maintaining it by savaging the Fairness Doctrine is all they truly desire. And that they claim to believe in “free speech” is just one more added deception they jointly offer their vast listening audience, enjoying their monopoly of the nation’s airwaves.

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6 Oct 2007 @ 20:24 by quinty : Our corporate airwaves

“Independent community radio provided critical coverage of the invasion and occupation of Iraq. While Cumulus Media was banning the Dixie Chicks for daring to speak out against war, Clear Channel radio stations were sponsoring prowar rallies around the country. Roxanne (Walker) Cordonier, the South Carolina Broadcasters Association’s 2002 radio personality of the year, was fired by Clear Channel-owned station WMYI-FM in Greenville, S.C. “I was fired for being antiwar,” she told me. “I was told to shut up. People who retained their employment had the presence of mind to keep quiet.” She sued, and Clear Channel settled with her just before trial (for a sum said to be about a year’s salary). Four years later, she is back on the air, now buying airtime on a locally owned station. “People forget,” she says, “these are the public airwaves, and the public is not getting access to them.””

Amy Goodman
Radio for the People
August 8, 2007  

6 Oct 2007 @ 21:13 by vaxen : Loose lips...
and all the rot which comes out of Washington, including Democrat rot, Republican rot, and free speech rot, can be summed up in two words. Magna Carta.

It is nice to see your newslog at the top, quinty san! I generally miss it as it wends its' way rapidly to the middle ranks in this funny system set up by the Flem.

In short: Who cares? You're only as free as you want to be. Right? I mean you do create your own reality, right? So who is stopping you from creating a 'radio station for We-The-People? Oh, you say that term has been co-opted? That that term was laced into the over all Corporation of 14th Amendment Citizens, the only ones who need to follow Congressional 'laws,' and doesn't refer at all to We-The-People? Semantics? Legal linguistics manipulation under color of the law negotiations which really do not exist at all because Corporations ARE NOT flesh and blood human beings? Amazing! My sentiments exactly!

It's all in 'the framing,' quinty san, of our ideas, our policies, our ethics, our values. Policies do not get people elected, values do.

Frames - deep seated mental structures about how the world works.
Frames are in our brains and define our common sense.

People use frames to understand facts. Truths need to be framed appropriately to be seen as truths. Facts need a context.

Policies should be based on values which are ethical ideas such as empathy, responsibility, fairness, freedom, justice and so on.

"War Rooms" and "Truth Squads" must change frames, not reinforce conservative frames.

Spin is the dishonest use of surface linguistc frames to hide the truth.

The Paa Tal created life forms that could evolve on their own, with free expression, self determinism.

What you call your 'government' isn't. You need to go to Washington D.C. and fire them all!


Voters votes are based on values, connectionm authenticity, trust, identity. That's how Reagan got in. Help people discover who they are in their heart of hearts. ;)

In 347 years tyranny will come to this Galaxy. It all starts here and now! "You must fight for your rights!" - Adolph Hitler

Quinty, we come from a race of leaders and chiefs! Be the leader, be the chief. We will all evolve together.

PS: Will edit for content and spelling at a later date.

Sic Semper Tyrannis!  

7 Oct 2007 @ 15:48 by quinty : 347 years Vax?
Two hundred ought twenty has a more melodic and rhythmic sound. Have we lost the music of the spheres? Are we choking on the inky black of night? Where did 347 years come from?

What is the Paa Tai? Can you buy it at your local store? Does it require a subscription or secret password? Do only cops know what it means. Do preachers include it in their sermons? Has it been seen circling in outer space? From the moon? By bored astronauts passing time swatting at flies? Or is it confined to basements, mostly in Oriental homes, wherever they may be? Was Rudyard Kipling the first to see one? Did it fit within his heartfelt notions of empire? Can it be domesticated, and kept in the house as a pet? Is it a better mouser than cats?

I would hate to venture down to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and encounter it there. Perhaps that's why my pack mule is so reluctant to make the long journey. Not my fat ass resting on his weary old back. Him thinking (though trying to hide his thoughts behind a long innocent chew) “Here’s another old gringo breaking my back. These tourists have no taste.”

I like your concept of "frames."

"Frames" keep the world turning. Those who write, think, and cognate however they can must all have a place in their worlds for "frames." Whose "frames" you choose reflect back on you. A "frame" speaks volumes. Many are faith based, others are empirical and solidly pragmatic. William James would approve of "frames," I'm sure. Einstein saw the universe within a “frame,” not a box.

The Christian right would love to put a frame around our heads. To corral our heads within a frame. To define the frames which guide us. I think they would shun Baroque frames, not that they dislike gold. But because they are so European, possibly French. A modern American frame snaps in a nanosecond like a thought through the mind of Steve Jobs.

I have been in the "War Rooms" and have seen the "Truth Squads." They have nothing on our masters of secret torture. Civilizations trudges forward on bruised knees. Those who rise are rarely seen by the mob. Those who sink below them are even more invisible.  

8 Oct 2007 @ 10:52 by jazzolog : The FCC, WBAI, Howl 'n Ol' Shep
Having grown up in a radio family, I can tell you with certainty the idea of fairness (doctrine or not) was engraved in the conscience of every employee. That didn't mean you couldn't enunciate a personal opinion, but it had to be labeled as such. If you slipped, people listened and people complained...and that included the FCC. I don't think station managers, who usually were a conservative bunch, kept score, but they responded immediately to phone calls demanding the other side. And people did want to hear that. Even into the '60s, Americans gloried in debate.

We also gloried in personalities and stations that pushed the envelope. As overwhelmingly popular a radio figure like Arthur Godfrey was, everyone knew he owed much of his fame to the casual way in which he treated his commercials. I strained my ears every night trying to bring in Jean Shepherd's show from WOR-AM, 400 miles away. Shep had been thrown off the air for refusing to follow station dogma, and inspired a manhunt to get him back after he disappeared and crowds of fans assembled in front of WOR headquarters everynight during his time slot. They were absolutely silent, but carried signs with just exclamation points on them.

And then, when I finally moved to New York, there was WBAI. Maybe Pacifica was part of the reason Reagan shrugged off fairness. Here was a station and small network in revolution! But how things have changed~~~

The New York Times
October 8, 2007
A Muse Unplugged

At the height of his bardic powers, Allen Ginsberg could terrify the authorities with the mere utterance of the syllable “om” as he led street throngs of citizens protesting the Vietnam War. Ginsberg reigned as the raucous poet of American hippiedom and as a literary pioneer whose freewheeling masterwork “Howl” prevailed against government censorship in a landmark obscenity trial 50 years ago.

It is with a queasy feeling of history in retreat that poetry lovers discover that WBAI, long the radio flagship of cocky resistance to government excess, decided last week that it couldn’t risk a 50th anniversary broadcast of the late poet’s recording of “Howl.” The station retreated out of fear that the Federal Communications Commission would levy large obscenity fines that might bankrupt the small-budget station.

The retreat was hardly an exercise of the sort of rhetorical paranoia that listeners rate as part of the charm of WBAI, an outlet with a brave history in broadcasting such free speech as George Carlin’s comedic “seven dirty words.” No, this time the broadcaster had to be mindful that the F.C.C. had already fined CBS $550,000 for its absurd nanosecond telecast of Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction.” Stations are rightly worried these days that airing “fleeting expletives” can cost them hundreds of thousands of dollars a pop.

The result is a growing tendency toward self-censorship. WBAI is hardly alone in flinching. Public broadcasting stations already are editing Ken Burns’s new documentary on World War II, eliminating pungent four-letter talk from the eyewitness accounts of G.I. Joe.

If Ginsberg were still with us, he would undoubtedly pen a mocking line or two about his poem being banned from the airwaves 50 years after it was ruled not to be obscene. Congress, of course, could redress the F.C.C.’s bullying powers if it wanted to. But lately, the Capitol’s most energetic broadcast agenda has been conservative members’ organizing against any attempt to restore the fairness doctrine to political broadcast, which could crimp the 24/7 rants of right-wing talk radio. The poet would understand, having once noted: “Whoever controls the media, the images, controls the culture.”

For more on WBAI and Howl, try this article~~~  

8 Oct 2007 @ 19:04 by quinty : Ol' Shep
I was sorry to learn you had some difficulty tuning his station in. I was a big fan, too. Wouldn’t miss a broadcast, and many a night lay in my bed in the deep dark of the night totally enthralled.

Ronald Reagan hated Pacifica. When he was Governor of California he hated KPFA and he hated Berkeley and the University of California. He had nothing on S. I. Hayakawa in that regard. (Who stomped the students at SF State.) And when President Reagan condemned broadcasting to greater corporate control he must have signed the order with relish.

Since you bring up Shep wouldn't it be nice if some of the greats of yore could be brought together again, just for a brief while? What would Ginsberg think? What would Jefferson, Madison, and Franklin think? What would Abe Lincoln think? Mark Twain, Whitman, and William Dean Howells? Emile Zola, Anatole France and Victor Hugo? (Since many on the right hate the French let’s have them too.) Wouldn't it be nice if they could all write an op-ed for the New York Times on the current state of the union?

(I imagine these "foreigners," Zola, Albert Camus, Sartre, Victor Hugo, would sound much like Harold Pinter.)

If Hillary is elected president will she reverse the trend at the FCC? Or will she raise her finger in the air to see which way the wind is blowing before making a “drastic” decision?  

8 Oct 2007 @ 20:57 by jazzolog : You Raise Your Finger
and, whattaya know? There's a Republican asshole just waiting.
Sartre used to write about us all the time, back in Fair Play For Cuba days.
WOR-AM remains a wonderfully clear channel station, even further out here in Ohio. But not every night!

And climate change is making FM radio reception a total nightmare. People on cable don't know of it of course, and most people probably don't know you can "hear" the weather coming on the radio. What used to be disturbances only from gigantic sunspot storms are now daily occurences.  

9 Oct 2007 @ 23:13 by quinty : That’s General Quiepo de Llano
up there. Otherwise known as "the drunkard of the airwaves" and "the barbarian of Seville." El boracho radiofanico y el barbaro de Sevilla.

He was the voice of fascist Spain during the civil war and broadcasted out of Seville. He drank on air which I gather encouraged him on to higher levels of vituperative blabber. Regarding my father he once described how he would skin him alive.

When it's all out warfare I suppose you can say whatever you want, without worrying too much about manners. If you're certain your side will win no one can make you pay for it. So you can spew as much venom as you like, drunk or sober. Real or fancied. Possible or merely morale boosting. For everyone, of course, likes to sport a good image of himself.

In the US we find it hard to understand the nature of Spanish fascists. What with all their Catholicism, cultural habits, history, militarism and class distinctions. It is all much too Spanish and generally weird and foreign. But the far out right, you may agree, is pretty outlandish whatever its roots are. We are seeing that here, on our own turf. Who could make up a Rush Limbough or a Melanie Morgan? And speak of hog wallows and rot: Quinn and Rose?

Am I wrong, but are there more far right talkers on the radio today than there ever were before? More Father Caughlins and Bishop Fulton J. Sheeans? All dominating the nation’s radio airwaves?  

10 Oct 2007 @ 00:56 by bushman : lol,
Right, just Rupert Murdoch and Clear Channel, need anyone say more? lol  

10 Oct 2007 @ 17:41 by Quinty @ : Yes,
thank you. How could I have left out the Murdoch empire? Clear Channel. Westwood One. The corporate/broadcast media network all tied together?  

13 Oct 2007 @ 03:50 by vaxen : Since this...
is a glitch I'll erase and fill it in with: I'm voting for Rudi Giuliani. A little thing he just said, in passing, the other day, happened to really sink in.

None of the other candidates have ever run a business or... anything at all! Wise words those. Of course Ron Paul, who is stirring up some stir frye on the net, is or was an obstetrician and a gynecologist (*Wink*) has to have 'run' a thing or two in his day and is a feril Constitutionalist (Not a highly recommended thing to be in this day and age) or so I hear but all the others? What have they 'run' before? Not even a business!

Just kidding, I don't vote. But if I did vote, and votes counted, I'd vote for Rudi Giuliani. Sig! Sig Heil!  

13 Oct 2007 @ 03:53 by vaxen : Try...
shortwave or, better yet, IRIS (Internet Router/s In Space) or psionic netwave broadcasts as done by the Ashtar Command (All Reps now) from the D.U.M.B. deep under Mt. Shasta. Better than all those old fuddy duddy radioheads put together and certainly beats the pants off Rupert and his Krewes.

Or the Paa Tal, best of all. 347 years, yup. A blink of an eye. Be on you like stink on s**t and sooner than you think like... yesterday. Hillaries finger? Well,I think we all know where that will go. Dark Mothers bleed the chicks.

Amazing. In 1964, en route to Chicago, I was asked, by a few Cubanos, to join Alef (Remeber Alef?). So much has gone down since then. Amazing!  

13 Oct 2007 @ 05:24 by bushman : Ya,
and the parents said , no way we are going to vote for Ross Parot, he waould change America too fast, lol, like what were they thinking voteing for GW?, lol. Id vote for the feril Cat, if you want to change it back. :}

IRIS is cool, but they only monitor things like the planet, they don't accualy report verbaly to a world market, but then they don't lie about what they are reporting in real time either so.... We will know right away if Iran gets nuked, and how big the bomb/s was/were, we won't know who accualy dropped it/them. For instance the mine collaps in Utah.  

13 Oct 2007 @ 15:42 by jerryvest : Vax, we do create our own reality, but
it may not be reality as it is!!! This media control by the right wing and operational by Reagan signing an "executive order" has made listening to the radio so disgusting that the commentators can say whatever they wish without requiring any responsible reporting of the truth or reality-as it is.

One annoying thing that has come from this corporate ownership is that whenever a commercial comes up, the sound increases so that we are forced to hear such crap as the "Head On" repetitions, over and over and over. I think that they annoy us so that we will go to the doctor, get a prescription for some psychotropic meds to adapt or conform while making our listening to these creeps less stressful. ;)

Excellent log, Quinty and excellent comments by everyone. Rudi for president, Vax? You've got a great sense of humor!  

13 Oct 2007 @ 19:16 by quinty : Fair and balanced

"...commentators can say whatever they wish without requiring any responsible reporting of the truth or reality-as it is."

We all know the formula. X and Y both come on. X relates what actually happened and Y is allowed to rebut with a self serving lie. The lie is allowed to pass for if the moderator called it that would be considered "biased." The moderator, in most cases, probably doesn't even know the truth anyway. For that's not, in corporate eyes, what matters.

If the person lying happens to be the President of the United States or a Cabinet member calling him on it would also be considered "impolite." Jimmy Carter is still receiving flack from pundits for being "too honest" about Cheney and the current administration. Even when the pundits think Carter is right!

In fact, those who were "premature" critics of the Iraq War are still held in contempt by the national media, their basic patriotism and good intentions called into question, though the country has pretty much caught up with them.

Rather than elevate those who were always right they remain on the fringes. And in the meantime the likes of a Jimmy Carter is roundly criticized for speaking his mind, for being impolite. After all, praising him for being a truth speaker would reflect upon their own long standing lack of intellectual honesty.

Why did the national news media join the chorus line boosting the war? Because their careers were at stake. Ambition, power, the desire for approval. And yet these same hypocrites will get on a stage and reiterate the high principals they learned in Journalism 101, tearily boasting that a free and independent press is the final hedge against tyranny. And that journalistic honesty is required for a well informed society.

Today the press has turned pretty much against the war. But I think they are only following popular opinion, the two feeding off each other. This war was standing on too shaky legs to ever remain standing. Eventually it had to collapse. And as it has the press has been there as if they always knew it wouldn’t remain standing.  

13 Oct 2007 @ 19:23 by quinty : As a card carrying member

of the Looney Left (they must call us that as revenge for decades of calling them the “wacko right.” That was before they came into any significant power and had any national influence. When the John Birch Society and Ku Klux Klan were seen as extremist fringe organizations, marching arm in arm with their coevals in the tin foil hat brigades) I would like to commiserate with anyone here who sometimes listens to the creatures of the night over the radio.

Ann Coulter is so awful that she is fascinating. Rush bloviated into the Hall of Fame long ago with windbag pronouncements. O’Reilly is so dumb they won’t even serve him in an Irish bar. Hannity is even dumber: “The Islamo Fascists are coming! The Islamo fascists are coming!” But if you really want to get down into the muck, places even hogs may not dare go, try out Quinn and Rose. These two excite all my prejudices against the redneck bottom feeding right. They are the lowest of gunrack “love it or leave it” patriots who would follow General Singlaub’s pickup into Hell if they thought they could shoot some Communists (Liberals) there. And to compound the insult claim to actually be the “mainstream.” And what makes it even worse, they may actually be right! At least in Oklahoma, where Quinn and Rose come out of. Man, if they are the “heartland,” they need a stake driven through it.

And they all claim to be Christians, too! As if going into mindless hysterics listening to some ignorant raving preacher up on a stage should be accepted as a respectable expression of civilization and humanity. And the basis for telling others how to live.

I suppose everyone has heard or seen Coulter’s latest flap? It is too beautiful for words. If only Molly Ivins were here to deal with it.

To really appreciate this it has to be watched....

Though here’s the transcript:  

5 Nov 2007 @ 07:52 by vaxen : In an unfair world...
The Fairness Doctrine had two basic elements: It required broadcasters to devote some of their airtime to discussing controversial matters of public interest, and to air contrasting views regarding those matters. Stations were given wide latitude as to how to provide contrasting views: It could be done through news segments, public affairs shows or editorials.

Formally adopted as an FCC rule in 1949 and repealed in 1987 by Ronald Reagan’s pro-broadcaster FCC, the doctrine can be traced back to the early days of broadcast regulation.

Early on, legislators wrestled over competing visions of the future of radio: Should it be commercial or non-commercial? There was even a proposal by the U.S. Navy to control the new technology. The debate included early arguments about how to address the public interest, as well as fears about the awesome power conferred on a handful of licensees.

American thought and American politics will be largely at the mercy of those who operate these stations, for publicity is the most powerful weapon that can be wielded in a *republic. And when such a weapon is placed in the hands of one person, or a single selfish group is permitted to either tacitly or otherwise acquire ownership or dominate these broadcasting stations throughout the country, then woe be to those who dare to differ with them. It will be impossible to compete with them in reaching the ears of the American people.
— Rep. Luther Johnson (D.-Texas), in the debate that preceded the Radio Act of 1927 (KPFA, 1/16/03)

* Hey! I thought that this was a Democracy?! Heh! Maybe it is, though just exactly when it became one I don't know (Oh yes I do!), and maybe that's the problem!? Democracies traditionally became fascist tyrannies. And that is why the founding (floundering?) fathers declared this nations form of government to be a Republic (Res Publica or Public 'Thing')! "If you can keep it." - Ben - the Medmanham Friar

And 'the Res' was/is?  

26 Dec 2007 @ 20:30 by Quinty @ : Newspaper and radio cross-ownership

The FCC's Christmas Gift to Big Media
By Amy Goodman

Monday 24 December 2007

On Dec. 18, the five commissioners of the Federal Communications Commission met in Washington, D.C., and, by a 3 to 2 vote, passed new regulations that would allow more media consolidation. This, despite the U.S. public’s increasing concern over the nation’s media being controlled by a few giant corporations.

Dissident FCC Commissioner Michael Copps said of the decision: "We generously ask big media to sit on Santa’s knee, tell us what it wants for Christmas, and then push through whatever of these wishes are politically and practically feasible. No test to see if anyone’s been naughty or nice. Just another big, shiny present for the favored few who already hold an FCC license—and a lump of coal for the rest of us. Happy holidays!"

It was Bush-appointed FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, now just 41 years old, who rammed through the rule changes. He has served President Bush well. As deputy general counsel for the Bush-Cheney campaign in 2000, he was active during the Florida recount. Before that he worked for Kenneth Starr at the Office of Independent Counsel during the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Rumor has it that he may run for governor of his native North Carolina. His wife, Cathie Martin, was a spokeswoman for Vice President Dick Cheney in the midst of the scandal around the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame. She now works on Bush’s communications staff.

The federal regulation in question is the newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership ban. It has for decades prevented the same company from owning both a television or radio station in a town as well as a newspaper. Underlying this ban is the core concept of the public interest. Copps couldn’t have been clearer: "Today’s decision would make George Orwell proud. We claim to be giving the news industry a shot in the arm—but the real effect is to reduce total newsgathering." Mergers will result in newsroom layoffs and less, not more, coverage of local issues.

Martin’s new rule is also going to hurt the diversity of the U.S. media. Juan Gonzalez, former president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, recently testified at a congressional hearing on media ownership. He said, "Even as our nation has become ever more diverse racially and ethnically ... minority ownership of the broadcast companies ... has remained at shockingly low levels. ..... Direct experience has shown us that ownership matters when it comes to ... a diversity of voices and meeting the news and information needs of minority communities."

Gonzalez pointed out that the new rule will allow the 19 minority-owned TV stations in the country’s top 20 cities to be targeted for takeovers by newspapers, further reducing minority ownership.

There is a reason that journalism is the sole profession explicitly protected in the U.S. Constitution. As a check and balance on government, it is essential to the functioning of a democratic society. As Thomas Jefferson famously stated, "Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter."

By eliminating the newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership ban, Martin claims to be saving newspapers. In a New York Times Op-Ed piece, he writes: "In many towns and cities, the newspaper is an endangered species. ... If we don’t act to improve the health of the newspaper industry, we will see newspapers wither and die." As Copps pointed out in his scathing dissent to the rule change, "We shed crocodile tears for the financial plight of newspapers—yet the truth is that newspaper profits are about double the S&P 500 average."

The problem facing Martin and his big media friends isn’t that newspapers are unprofitable; it’s that they are simply not as profitable as they used to be. This is in part because of the Internet. People no longer have to rely on the newspaper to post or read classified ads, for example, with free online outlets like Craigslist.

The media system in the United States is too highly concentrated and serves not the public interest but rather the interests of moguls like Rupert Murdoch and Sumner Redstone, who controls CBS/Viacom. Media corporations that will benefit from Martin’s handout are the same ones that acted as a conveyor belt for the lies of the Bush administration about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. We need a media that challenges the government, that acts as a fourth estate, not for the state. We need a diverse media. The U.S. Congress has a chance to overrule Martin and the FCC, and to keep the newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership ban in place. It should do so immediately, before the consolidated press leads us into another war.

Amy Goodman is the host of "Democracy Now!," a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on 650 stations in North America.  

27 Dec 2007 @ 22:18 by vaxen : Congress?
A sinking ship. Cf:

and here is a link that you also may enjoy:

Happy New year, quinty san...  

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4 May 2005 @ 21:51: t'isnt all bad news in the world !
27 Mar 2005 @ 23:12: News Sources

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