January 3, 2007
-- by Dave Johnson
Did you know that TV and radio stations are using YOUR common airwaves and are therefore required to serve the public interest?
The Oregon Alliance to Reform Media, or ARM, has filed a petition at the FCC to deny its renewal of all the commercial TV station licenses in Portland, Ore., saying its coverage of elections does not meet the FCC's standard of public-interest service, which is to meet the needs of the community.Of course, this is the BUSH FCC, so they'll just refuse to do anything. But maybe if we alert the public and make enough noise... now that there is oversight, maybe the Congress will work to force the Bush FCC to enforce the law.
The group uses as supporting material a study from the Campaign Media Legal Center that found that, in the four weeks prior to the election in 2004, less than 1% of newscasts were devoted to coverage of state elections, about 9% to ballot issues and less than 1% to local elections.
The group claims the study covered "substantially all of the regularly scheduled locally produced news available in Portland."
The group argues that the FCC must at least designate the license challenge for hearing--something it rarely does--saying that its petition raises "substantial and material questions of fact" that make that designation mandatory.
Of course, the FCC can also conclude that the evidence does not meet that burden of proof, as it did recently in denying a license challenge to Chicago commercial stations over minority issues.
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The government should just sell the airwaves off to the highest bidder. They're a depreciating asset, as broadband and the internet makes broadcast television less valuable. The sooner the govt. sells it, the higher price it will get. (BTW - isn't it an outrage that TV stations get to use the spectrum for free? Shouldn't they at least pay rent?)
As for election coverage and the FCC, if the government didn't own the airways, then it wouldn't be in a position of regulating how they are used (making television and radio operate the way the internet does now - complete and total freedom of speech). This would be ideal, in my view.
The complaint is all too correct, and I suspect applies to most of the country. It's incredibly hard to find any information about state and local candidates, especially local ones, including who they are, much less anything about them, unless for some reason they're especially interesting or notorious. That goes for the newspapers, too.
Feel free, also, to challenge the license renewals of any station carrying the show of Hal Turner, who has threatened members of Congress with death. There's no law requiring the people's airwaves be used to convey death threats against elected officials.
Posted by: Lex at January 4, 2007 11:35 AM
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