What is in this article?:
Will official local boards of censors at each local radio and TV station ensure that stations comply with the FCC’s proposed new Localism, Balance and Diversity Doctrine or lose their license?
Back with a vengeance
Like the "Die Hard" movie franchise, the Fairness Doctrine is back with vengeance, and this one’s as serious as a heart attack. Now pending before the FCC is a proposal known as the Localism, Balance and Diversity Doctrine that would subject all local news content to government review and change. Change would be ordered as it was under the old Fairness Doctrine by majority vote of 3 of 5 Commissioners, all of whom, by law, are Presidential appointees.
Commissioners are generally appointed because of their political backgrounds and are not necessarily experts in broadcasting or news. Each has personal political views. Three of five would once again have the power to pull, amend and change news stories and how they are presented, at will.
This time, the government proposes to add an official local board of censors at each local station to make sure the station complies. If not, the board is to recommend the station’s license to be revoked. This would apply to radio and TV news across the country. Networks would have to supply programs to stations that comply, or its affiliates would be in trouble. The FCC took control of the Internet last year and is now expanding its reach over its content and its news, too.
Because the rules are necessarily vague, it’s difficult to predict how three Commissioners will vote on a given subject. Under the threat of losing its license, stations would be easily intimidated if questions or investigations were to arise due to news coverage non-compliance. Internet organizations would also be controlled.
The idea of presenting balanced viewpoints may seem like a good idea, but the problem and threat is found in who decides. Even If local producers, reporters and stations decide, the decision of the three Commissioners in Washington will determine the outcome. Local stations will have to predict where Washington’s politics will lead those Commissioners at the local level. If a local station’s coverage doesn’t agree with Commission-approved politics, stations will have to change the stories.