Accuracy in Media

This week Free Press signaled its push for a new Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chair in favor of “network neutrality” and media “diversity” by placing Help Wanted ads in several local Washington DC newspapers. From their site:

“This week, Free Press placed a ‘help wanted’ ad on behalf of the American people in four influential Washington publications to remind the incoming administration that the new chair must put the needs of Main Street before Wall Street. This means delivering on Obama’s campaign promises to enforce Net Neutrality, build out broadband services to the tens of millions of Americans still off the grid, and to stop the gobbling up of local media outlets by massive corporate owners like Clear Channel, Disney and News Corp.

The ads appeared in the classified sections of the Washington Post, Washington Times, Politico and The Hill.”

As Accuracy in Media has documented, members of George Soros-funded Free Press have long been behind the push for media diversity, localism, ownership caps, and other regulations which restrict free speech.

Free Press is a previous supporter of the “Fairness and Accountability in Broadcasting Act” introduced by Representive Louise Slaughter in 2005, which would have revoked radio stations’ licenses if they failed to fulfill their public interest obligations.

 They have sponsored conferences in which speakers call for the return of the Fairness Doctrine, are cited by localism advocates, and the group co-wrote the infamous report The Structural Imbalance of Talk Radio with the Center for American Progress.

Free Press also published Professor Cass Sunstein’s 1995 book Democracy and the Problem of Free Speech. Sunstein and Marvin Ammori, a lawyer for Free Press, spoke together at an April 2008 American University Washington College of Law conference deliberating the “merits” of Red Lion Broadcasting Co. v. FCC., a case which upheld the application of the fairness doctrine and held that broadcaster’s rights were second to the right of the public to balanced media coverage.

Ammori argued at the conference that “the Fairness Doctrine has long since been repealed, it will not come back,” and accused those who disagree of either being “dishonest,” using the issue as a “political tool,” or being “overly zealous.”

On December 2, the group signaled its intentions:

“Alright, so we may not be doing the hiring, but President-elect Barack Obama is, and we the public need to hold the president-elect to his campaign promises as he picks the next head of the Federal Communications Commission.

Obama will soon announce his choice to lead the FCC, a decision that will influence every facet of our media system—from media consolidation to broadband access and cell phone innovation.

Obama has pledged to make media in America more open, diverse and democratic, but will he stand by this promise in the face of intense insider pressure to choose a more industry friendly FCC chairman?”

They offer a poll in which people can pick the top three things a new FCC Chair should work toward:  

  • “Increase licenses for low-power FM stations nationwide”
  • “Break up media conglomerates and return stations to local control”
  • “Foster more competition among wired and wireless Internet service providers”
  • “Stop propaganda, fake news and radio payola”
  • “Encourage access to more diverse and independent content on cable networks”
  • “Open more public airwaves to high-speed Internet access”
  • “Protect an open Internet by enforcing Net Neutrality”
  • “Use federal programs like the Universal Service Fund to deliver broadband to rural communities”
  • “Create open access standards for mobile phone networks”
  • “Offer more radio and TV licenses to women and minorities”

“Free Press will be delivering the results of the poll to Obama’s FCC transition team soon, but it’s not too late to cast your vote.

But one thing is missing from the list, though not missed by the general public. One impromptu response by “mycroftklf” reads:

I am all for “saving the internet” from free speech restrictions via net neutrality, but I believe that the MOST important issue that will be coming before the FCC in the near future is the reinstatement of the unlamented so-called “Fairness Doctrine.”

Somehow, that item is missing from the list offered on the FreePress page. Tell them that “free” speech and “free” press requires “Freedom”, not some bureaucrats notion of “Fairness”.

Well said.




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