Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Democrats' Plans for Controlling the Media

Conservatives and Republicans fear the Democrats will impose the Fairness Doctrine on talk radio if Obama wins in November. While they rightly worry about the Fairness Doctrine, they fail to pay attention to other plans the Democrats have for controlling the media.

Under the guise of improving diversity and attention to local affairs, Obama explicity states his goals in a 2007 press release after an FCC hearing in Chicago . Here are a sampling of reports:

"Obama Urges FCC to Reduce Length of TV Station Licenses
By Ira Teinowitz of TV Week September 21, 2007
Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama is throwing out more hints that the Federal Communications Commission would have a somewhat different focus if he wins the election.
At Thursday night's FCC media ownership hearing in Chicago, an aide read a statement in which the Illinois senator complimented the FCC for holding the hearing but questioned some of the FCC's past focus on easing ownership rules.
Sen. Obama said the FCC should reduce the length of TV station licenses and get more input, more often, on how well stations are serving community needs.
"I believe that broadcaster license-renewal requests--the periodic review required to ensure that broadcasters are complying with their public-interest obligations to local communities for using the public spectrum--should require greater FCC scrutiny and public input and occur more frequently."......
"Instead of greater consolidation, I fully endorse the call for new rules promoting greater coverage of local issues and greater responsiveness of broadcasters to the communities they operate in.".....

The Broadcast Law Blog:"According to press reports, the statement expressed the candidate's positions favoring shorter license renewal terms for broadcasters so that they would be subject to more public scrutiny, as well as criticizing the FCC for allowing broadcast consolidation....."Broadcast Law Blog

Broadcast Engineering.com: "Obama called for “greater clarity” of broadcasters’ public-interest obligations. The Illinois senator said he supported new rules “promoting greater coverage of local issues and greater responsiveness of broadcasters to the communities they operate in.”
He also urged greater FCC scrutiny of broadcast station license renewals and more public input into the process
..." Broadcastengineering.com

Congress passed the Telecommunications Act of 1996, easing restrictions on how many media outlets a corporation (or individual) could own in a particular market. There has been much debate over this law as most radio stations are now owned by only a few companies. Critics argue that such consolidation has stifled diversity in programming and ignored the needs of local communities. An earlier post, The Changing Face of Radio, discussed how consolidation has ruined the radio industry. However, the Democrats go past the goal of increasing competition and have made it clear they want to make it easier for the government to harass and control the media.

The Democrats advocate shortening the length of a broadcast license from its current term of eight years to one that is only two or three years, thus forcing the station to constantly worry about getting its license renewed by the government. The Democrats also have a few ideas of how to improve the so-called community focus of a station. The two Democrats on the FCC Board made the following recommendations, as reported in Broadcast & Cable:

The localism items proposed -- it established no final rules -- that broadcasters be required to better demonstrate their local programming service to the community at renewal time, including forming community advisory boards to help them determine programming of local import.

Specifically, the localism item looks at nine areas: 1) communications between the community and the station; 2. the nature and amount of local programming; 3. the nature and amount, specifically, of political programming; 4. underserved audiences, i.e. are the communities whose needs have not been addressed?; 5. disaster warnings and whether, say, there is someone physically at the station to relay them; 6. the relationship of network and affiliate, and whether that can an impediment to local decision-making (preemption of programming, content issues); 7. payola and sponsorship identification (radio pay-for-play rather than TV product integration); 8. the adequacy of license renewal procedures; and 9. additional spectrum allocations that might increase the diversity of voices.It is a laundry list that has broadcasters fearing the kind of regulatory heavy hand cable has long complained of from this commission.
Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein generally supported the localism initiatives but said they wished they had been final rules rather than proposals. They worried that the final rules might be watered down and were concerned about the commission's willingness to enforce them.
"We need to put meat in the sandwich we deliver," Adelstein said. "Why not a final order," Copps added, "rather than just good ideas?" He said he was skeptical but would work with the chairman to "try to move these things along
.” http://www.broadcastingcable.com/index.asp?layout=article&articleid=CA6513849

Citizen Review Boards. The Democrats want to establish citizen review boards for tv and radio stations. One can only imagine the mischief this would create. What would be the criteria for appointing people to the board? Would a station criticize a government body, local or federal, if the allies of that government were on the board? Would there be a board for each station or just one for that community? What powers would such a review board have? Would local or federal governments appoint the members? How much weight would be given to its recommendations for the renewal of a license? If the license is renewed every three years, a station would be forced to become a trollop, trying to please the government in order to stay in business.

It is also telling that Democrats want to interfere in the relationship between the network and its affiliates, by advocating the government take control of a station's content away from its owners. The Democrats complain about stations ignoring "underserved audiences." How exactly does one determine what constitutes an "underserved audience"? Ratings? Sociological studies? Focus group polling? Such a vague goal is merely an excuse to give the government more control over content as some government official will determine what audience is "underserved" (after cooking the statistics to support the ruling) and issue a decree to the offending station to whom it will market its programming (CRA in Broadcasting anyone?).

The press has its freedoms because the Founding Fathers knew government needs a watchdog. The public has a right to information provided by a media free from any form of government influence if the government is truly to be for the people and by the people. What Obama and the Democrats desire is to shield themselves from media scrutiny under the masquerade of serving the community, a tactic used by most despots and tyrants. The public is harmed when the media is controlled by a few large corporations or the government, even in the age of the internet. While there may be some legitimate complaints about how media consolidation harms local communities, such concerns can be addressed by simply re-imposing some of the limits on ownership of media outlets in a market.

However, the Democrats desire to create their own version of Huey Long's Louisiana, seeking to create Community Review Boards, make the stations constantly plead for license renewals, give outside groups more power to veto said renewals, and dictate what the content should be, all under the guise of "protecting" the "underserved" and "the community". If a Republican government came up with these ideas, one can only imagine the shrieking and gnashing of teeth among the media that would occur. However, the media does not mind selling its soul as long as it serves The Cause. Huey P. Long took over the media in Louisiana while promising to "Share the Wealth". The Democrats intend to do the same while the media doesn't just sell them the rope but ties the noose for them as well.

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Trollfest '09

Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).

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In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.

In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

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Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

Note: Security provided by INS.

Trollfest '07

Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

Note: Security provided by INS