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Reply #7: sqxnk, I disagree with you [View All]

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davekriss Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-12-06 01:11 PM
Response to Reply #4
7. sqxnk, I disagree with you
First of all, "government" did not exercise censorship, i.e. supress speech, via the Fairness Doctrine (that is the conservative meme used to defeat subsequent attempts to codify in law this former FCC regulation). All it did was set the rules of the game that we, as a democracy, chose for those who would profit from their use of part of the public commons, the airwaves.

The Fairness Doctrine stated that, in return for the public largesse enabling private profit, the broadcaster agrees to present news on issues of interest to its audience, and that they maintain the opportunity to present all sides of an issue (that they be fair). It creates the opportunity for a Noam Chomsky or Michael Parenti to be seen and heard and counter the legions of walkin'-talkin' parrots out of conservative think tanks like the American Enterprise Institute, PNAC, the Heritage Foundation, and the CATO institute, all of the latter serving the vested interests of the owning class and thus the owners of the media channels themselves. It is this ownership issue that is antithetical to free speech as the owners have the power to drown out speech at variance to their interests, and they do this unfettered by regulatory brakes these days. Our democratic institutions once served as a brake against the advantages of ownership, ensuring wider benefit from exploitation of the public commons, but no more.

There were three related regulations that, along with the repeal of the Doctrine, result in the Limbo-land Hannitization of the major media, namely the Rule of Sevens, the requirement to allow anyone personally attacked in the news an opportunity to respond, and the requirement to allow unfavored candidates air time when the broadcaster endorses a political candidate (the latter two regs were rescinded in 2000). Neutering of the Rule of Sevens was the most egregious violation of the public.

The Rule of Sevens stated that no single entity can own more than 7 radio stations, 7 television stations, and 7 newspapers, thereby limiting the entity's market reach. No single person could come to dominate media messaging and, by virtue of plurality and along with the other FCC regulations, we have something closer to a democracy of ideas than the Orwellian propaganda state we've got today. Market reach is still regulated, but it has been greatly enhanced in favor of the owning class: Today, no single entity can have more than 45% market reach; they can achieve up to that limit by any combination of ownership they can muster. The result is the 29,000+ major media outlets once owned by 10,000 companies is today owned by just 6 mega-communications companies. If you don't think this concentration of ownership influences what you see and hear, then I have a bridge to sell you in Brooklyn.

The repeal of regulation in terms of fairness, opportunity, and ownership has lifted the news function from the public service it once was to an entertainment slot that has to compete for market share just like any American Gladiator or Survivor episode. The result is not news, but infotainment, initially championed by FOXNews, an infotainment with a slant: Distract the masses from our real problems, hide real causes, avoid understanding-promoting discussion, scapegoat the powerless, substitute a controlled "reality" favoring the owning classes, and count your profits in private.

Giving up our right to regulate the public commons is in fact surrender to those who seek to expoit us.

Where the law of the majority ceases to be acknowledged, there
government ends; the law of the strongest takes its place, and
life and property are his who can take them.
-- Thomas Jefferson, to Annapolis Citizens, 1809

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