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View Diary: FCC Chair promises to kill Fairness Doctrine. WTF??? (202 comments)

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  •  If it were an open-spectrum world, (0+ / 0-)

    you would not need a license issued by the FCC.

    But I do agree, FCC licenses are grants of a privilege.  No one has a right to a license.  An applicant must demonstrate its basic qualifications.  And the statute (the Communications Act) explicitly states that the grant of a license does not convey a property interest.  So, the licensee does not own the licensee as an asset to which the licensee holds title, as would be the case for the transmitter, the antenna tower, etc.  The licensee is a trustee, and the license is a public trust.

    At least that is the theory (and what the law says).  In practice, particularly with respect to public-service (nonentertainment) programming, the FCC does not require very much of broadcast licensees.  The FCC has granted renewals by, e.g., home shopping stations that had no local news and that aired canned public-affairs programming very early on Sunday mornings.

    I'm of two minds about this.  On the one hand, I lament what has happened to broadcast news and to the broadcasting industry generally.  On the other hand, if listeners and viewers are not interested enough to communicate with licensees, to demand quality programming, and to boycott stations that air the likes of Rush Limbaugh, and to noisily boycott the sponsors of such programs and stations, why should the government force licensees to provide a certain amount of public-affairs programming, a certain amount of balance, a certain amount of locally produced news, etc?

    Broadcasters will generally air what attracts the most eyeballs and eardrums.  If the majority of listeners demanded quality and balanced programming, we would have it.

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