FCC Commissioner Wants to Control the Content of Broadcast Media

December 07, 2010

FCC Commissioner Wants to Control the Content of Broadcast

By Chuck


The First Amendment forbids Congress from infringing on
Americans’ right to free speech. But the Federal Communications Commission is
not Congress. And Michael Copps, one of four FCC
reporting to Chairman Julius Genachowski, seems intent on
ignoring that pesky part of the First Amendment about “abridging the freedom of
speech” when that speech is sent out over the airwaves.

In two
American Thinker articles earlier this year, I discussed possible FCC attempts
to force progressive programming into broadcast media. Now, in addition to a
nasty Christmas present that Genachowski wants to give Americans on December 21
(Net Neutrality), Copps wants government to control
private-sector broadcast content.

In a December 2 speech, Copps proposed that the FCC conduct a “public value
test” of commercial broadcast stations.
If a station passes the Public Value Test, it of course keeps the license
it has earned to use the people’s airwaves. If not, it goes on probation for a
year, renewable for an additional year if it demonstrates measurable progress.
If the station fails again, give the license to someone who will use it to serve
the public interest.
Stations that don’t comply with FCC demands would lose their licenses to
organizations willing to do the agency’s bidding.

The “Public Value Test”
didn’t fly extemporaneously from Copps’s lips. Since Barack Obama became
president, there have been growing noises about reinstituting the effects of the
repealed Fairness Doctrine without calling any new regulation by that name. Progressives long to stop the resurgence of traditional American values that has taken place after two years of economy-killing, freedom-robbing Obama rule. Republicans blew out Democrats in the midterm election. Lefties are in quite a state, desperate to shut down opposition speech.

opponents is precisely what one 2007 Center for American Progress study was about. The study, conducted by a group of
progressive ideologues including FCC Diversity Czar Mark Lloyd, complained of 91
percent of talk radio being conservative. Lloyd and company praised the “more
balanced” programming “in markets such as New York and Chicago.” The authors’
choice to call two of America’s bluest cities demographically “balanced” is an
indicator of the study’s dishonesty.

Copps seems to have read Lloyd’s study. In his December 2 speech, the
commissioner focused on seven areas in which the Public Value Test could be applied.
Many of the proposed tactics would force the progressive voice over the airwaves
and reduce the presence of conservative and libertarian voices.
Copps offers programs which allegedly wouldn’t intervene in “issues of
content,” but then he calls for federal “human and financial resources going
into news.” No clear thinker believes that once federal money and employees
start prowling the innards of broadcast stations, federal dictates on media
content would not follow.
FCC efforts aimed at “Reflecting Diversity,” according to Copps, would
not be used to explore “how poorly America’s minorities, women and
other diversity groups are faring on our broadcast media.” But then the
commissioner instantly complains that “people of color own only about 3.6% of
full-power commercial television stations.” Americans are supposed to trust that
the man doesn’t want the FCC to enforce “diverse” station
Yet more revealing of intent, Copps maintains that diversity encompasses
“how groups are depicted in the media — too often stereotyped and caricatured
— and to what roles minorities and women have in owning and managing media
companies.” So will the FCC try to force broadcast media to depict minorities
differently? Copps says:

The FCC’s Diversity Advisory Committee has spent years providing
us with specific, targeted recommendations to correct this injustice. How sad it
is that most of these recommendations have not been put to a Commission vote. It
is time to right this awful wrong.

There is little doubt as to the objectives. Copps’s remarks scream “social
justice.” The commissioner essentially prescribes that the FCC supervise the
remolding of the image of minorities and people of color. It would be naïve to
think that if the tactic were implemented, affirmative action on station
ownership would not come to pass.
Copps complains that “minorities are ignored, and local self-expression
becomes the exception” when stations are run by “mega companies” with “absentee
owners” who devalue programming diversity. Stations up for relicensing should
have to “take the public pulse.”
Progressives like Copps cannot help themselves. Contempt for the free
market runs strong in the social engineer’s psyche. No one with business sense
runs an enterprise that has no hope of making money. Enacted, Copps’s plan to
force “minority” programming into communities is a guaranteed broadcast station
and job killer. FCC regulations would join EPA regulations as tools for pushing
prosperity-murdering progressivism.
Mr. Copps isn’t done yet. The FCC should force more “local programming”
into broadcast markets, says the commissioner. Why? “Homogenized music and
entertainment from huge conglomerates constrains [sic] creativity,
suppresses [sic] local talent, and detracts [sic] from the
great tapestry of our nation’s cultural diversity.” If Houstonians won’t listen
to a radio station that plays the music of the Taigana tribe from Mongolia’s
Hovsgol region in consideration of transplanted tribe members living in the
area, then the FCC would presumably insist that one or more stations broadcast
sheep bladder wind instrument melodies anyway. Advertisers won’t buy ad time.
But progressives have no use for sound economics.
What will “local programming” guidelines look like? Copps’s
We should be working toward a solution wherein a certain percentage of
prime-time programming — I have suggested 25 percent — is locally or
independently-produced. Public Service Announcements should also be more
localized and more of them aired in prime-time, too.
“Independently-produced” is code for ideologically tuned messages aimed at
voters. “Public service announcements” will conform to FCC specifications —
indoctrination kicked up a notch.
One of the lowest points in the Copps speech came when the commissioner
called today’s left-wing public broadcasting “the jewel of our media landscape.”
But two still lower points occurred before Copps even opened his mouth. The
venue for the speech was the Columbia University School of Journalism. And Copps
was introduced by left-wing PBS icon Bill Moyers.
A writer, physicist, and former high tech executive, Chuck
Rogér invites you to visit his website,
E-mail Chuck at

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at December 07, 2010 – 09:36:45 AM CST



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