Conservative Political Commentary

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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The FCC Wants More Control of Broadcast Media

Source: http://www.fcc.gov/commissioners/photo...Image via WikipediaMichael Copps’ speech (PDF here) was on December 2, 2010, but the issue remains open for discussion. Conservatives should target this for fierce debate.

FCC Commissioner Michael Copps says that American journalism is in bad way, and that it’s up to the federal government, specifically the Federal Communications Commission, to fix it. Of course, to the current powers that be in the Executive Branch and Democratic leaders in Congress, it’s the federal government’s duty to define and fix everything they imagine to be wrong, and to assign blame to conservatives.

Copps wants to spruce up traditional media by requiring a “public value test” for licensing, and reducing time between renewals from eight years to four years. How he longs for the days when the FCC could closely control or influence content, based on the fact that spectrum was scarce, and as a public resource, could be controlled to a great extent by government.



If that line of argument ever had merit, it has next to none now. There is no lack of “diversity” (which government claims to want but doesn’t want to allow), as there are innumerable sources of information available to anyone who has cable or satellite TV and the Internet. The only diversity the government wants is ethnic diversity and male-female diversity, and not diversity of ideas that may stray from the liberal-socialist-fascist mold.

Copps’ “enhanced disclosure,” especially in regard to political advertising, serves no real purpose except to place onerous restrictions and red tape on broadcasters.

As reported by CNS News.com, concerning Copps’ speech at Columbia:

Copps said the FCC and Congress in the future will need to examine the rules governing the structure of media ownership. And he advocated increasing support for public broadcasting, which he described as “the jewel of our media landscape.” [1]

Apparently, he’d like all broadcasting to be more like NPR and PBS. Ghastly thought!

The problem with all this is that it seriously would violate the First Amendment. But liberals are a lot less interested in the Constitution and Bill of Rights than they are in silencing their opposition. Where is it written that the federal government shall control public discourse? Not in the Constitution. It is a document which prescribes a government that is strong where it needs to be, but strictly limited in its powers.

As Michael Hurd points out in Capitalism Magazine.com,

Obama undoubtedly realizes that his greatest enemy is dissent. The apparatus is in place for impairing if not crushing dissent, and it’s known as the FCC. It's probably true that no prior President could have gotten away with it. This one might, not because he's widely respected or wildly popular (he's neither). But America, especially in the last few years, has been in a downward spiral of what psychology calls, “learned helplessness.” The more the government takes away our freedoms, the more helpless too many of us feel – leaving the government in a position to take away still more powers. It's a vicious cycle that ends with totalitarianism. [2]

According to Adweek.com,

In a Dec. 6 letter to Copps, [Rep. Joe] Barton [R-TX] asked Copps to explain in more detail what he meant by imposing a public-value test on broadcast news every four years as a contingency of license renewal.

“I hope...that you do not mean to suggest that it is the job of the federal government, through the FCC, to determine the content that is available for Americans to consume,” said Barton.

“Although your concern for providing American citizens information they need to ‘make intelligent decisions about the full direction of their country’ may stem from the very best of intentions, increasing the federal government’s role in the composition of the information Americans have at their disposal—in an information marketplace that is bigger and more easily accessible than ever before—is unwise policy and raises serious questions of constitutionality.” [3]

I would urge the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, as they prepare to defund Obamacare, to also defund NPR, PBS, and the FCC. And while they’re at it, the EPA and a several other government agencies.

When we have officials such as Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC) calling for restructuring the boundaries of free speech, and Michael Copps advocating such federal control of broadcasting, along with the FCC’s other initiatives to censor the internet, we are in danger of losing constitutional freedoms. It doesn’t have to happen. Conservatives in government now have enough power to stop it. I hope they have the courage to do so.


[1] Susan Jones, “FCC Commissioner Wants to Test the ‘Public Value’ of Every Broadcast Station,” 12/03/2010, CNS News.com.


[2] Michael Hurd, “FCC’s ‘Public Value Test’: An Essential Step to Dictatorship,” 12/10/2010, Capitalism Magazine.com.


[3] Katy Bachman, “GOPer Pounds Proposed ‘Public Value Test,’” 12/06/2010, Adweek.com.


Photo: Portrait of FCC Commissioner Michael Copps. Public Domain.


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