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Several days ago, I wrote this post at Daily Kos about our action in Wisconsin to formally challenge Conservative Talk Radio, not just in Wisconsin, but all across the United States.

We have proven that Clear Channel and Journal Communications are purposely using the microphones in Milwaukee to get GOP candidates elected;  during the Scott Walker recall, they gave the GOP more than a million dollars in free airtime, and virtually none to the Democrats.  We have complained to the FCC, and expect it to enforce equal time rules on behalf of we the people.

The FCC needs to decide this before the general election begins in September, but if history is a guide, the agency will drag its feet and try to hide from us.

Please sign our petition and tell the FCC we demand that both sides get access to the powerful radio microphones in the critical 60 days before an election.

Help make certain that talkers from Rush Limbaugh to Glenn Beck can't just use their microphones to promote one political side during elections.  They are the public airwaves, not the Republican airwaves, after all!

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Comment Preferences

  •  Radio & TV Host Ed Schultz Has Been a Longtime (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    alaprst, phonegery, BlackSheep1, DRo, G2geek, rubyr

    crusader on this issue. As I understand his feelings, the issue and the way to get at this is via media ownership and ownership concentration.

    Yours is an excellent immediate approach however.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Fri Jun 15, 2012 at 01:31:42 PM PDT

    •  Ed like Thom Hartmann doesn't listen to radio (0+ / 0-)

      They read.  They only have time to read. They need to put more emphasis on their own medium but like most they only have tiime to read.

      All  national and many local RW talkers need to be verbally recorded with latest dictation software and exposed on searchable database. No excuse for not doing that.

      This is a list of 76 universities for Rush Limbaugh that endorse global warming denial, racism, sexism, and partisan lying by broadcasting sports on Limbaugh radio stations.

      by certainot on Fri Jun 15, 2012 at 06:26:54 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I don't think FCC has authority to do this.... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DRo, coffeetalk, G2geek, FG

    There is no more "Fairness Doctrine" within the FCC rules anymore.

    FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski (a Democrat)  removed those rules late in 2011 at the request of a Republican Congress.

    There must either be:

    a)  A Notice of Inquiry started by the FCC to reinstate the rules.  (But, ultimately, if Genachowski got rid of it, now way the whole FCC adopts the rules b/c the two Repub Commissions wouldn't vote for Fairness Doctrine either).

    b)  Congress needs to pass a new LAW implementing Fairness Doctrine.

    •  HIexpat - no interest in Congress for a new FD (7+ / 0-)

      There is no support in Congress or at the White House for a new Fairness Doctrine. Many believe the old FD could not stand a constitutional challenge.  I was in broadcasting during the old FD and we all hated it. I still do and will fight against bringing it back.

      "let's talk about that"

      by VClib on Fri Jun 15, 2012 at 01:50:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Oh brother. (0+ / 0-)
        ...and we all hated it.

        "Let the Dragon sleep, for when China awakes, she will shake the world." -- Napoleon Bonaparte

        by Pluto on Fri Jun 15, 2012 at 02:06:00 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  i support public ownership of the airwaves. (0+ / 0-)

          And since electromagnetic spectrum, unlike any other "speech/press" resource, is a finite resource, strictly limited by the laws of physics, we have a right to insist upon policies that serve the public as a whole, rather than narrow economic and partisan interests.

          You can't argue with physics.

          "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

          by G2geek on Fri Jun 15, 2012 at 03:02:01 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Every resource is finite. Aside from possibly (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            johnny wurster

            information. Does it mean that all resources should be government-owned?

            •  There's a significant difference. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              FG, G2geek

              Look up -why- the FCC has legal jurisdiction over the airwaves and why I can't just decide to throw up an unlicensed 50KW FM station.  

              Unlike most resources, use of the spectrum isn't denied by the use of the spectrum by someone else -- that is, no one can 'own' a chunk of their air and deny someone else use of it in the same way that I can own, say, an apple.  Also, you can't make more spectrum, like you can make more of other renewable resources, or find other sources of non-renewables.  

              The only vaguely fair way to resolve the various conflicts that arise from multiple people wanting to broadcast is to license out chunks of the spectrum.  Since this is a public resource -- something to which no one person is more entitled to use than anyone else -- the airwaves were -supposed- to be held in public trust, and this justified placing extraordinary restrictions on what broadcasters can do, for the common good and the benefit of the public.

              The Fairness Doctrine shouldn't be seen as a restriction on free speech any more than a landlord's stipulation that you can't paint your house safety orange is.  Not that I'm saying that the old FD was perfect, but since the destruction of the fairness doctrine allowed entertainment 'news' to rise to the foreground, the american public has become impacted in a negative way -- they are less informed and more ignorant, which, if you can't tell, is not just a 'threat' to the union, but is actually damaging it.

            •  He who undermines the king... (0+ / 0-)

              ...empowers the barons.

            •  as a matter of fact... (0+ / 0-)

              .... Yes, all of the mineral resources should be government owned, because they are also finite and non-renewable, and need to be managed for the common good rather than for private profit.  

              Among other things that means nationalizing the oil companies.

              "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

              by G2geek on Fri Jun 15, 2012 at 04:27:43 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  G2 - nationalize the oil companies? (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                Many of the oil companies with headquarters in the US own most of their oil in other parts of the world. How would you nationalize those reserves?

                Oil that is on private land belongs to the owner so government could only take it by offering fair market value for the reserves. Buying all the privately owned oil in the US would be very expensive. How would we pay for it?

                Oil owned on federal land is already owned by the government and that land is leased to exploration, development and operating companies. If the government owned all the oil what would your plan be?

                "let's talk about that"

                by VClib on Fri Jun 15, 2012 at 05:27:38 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  darn, busted!:-) (0+ / 0-)

                  Let's just say you caught me with my hand in the deliberate hyperbole cookie jar:-)

                  One thing I would seriously do away with though, is the provisions whereby ownership of mineral rights on a site is given higher standing than ownership of surface rights.  

                  The idea that I can buy the mineral rights under your house and then force you out of your house so I can get my minerals, is anathema.  If anything, the right of someone to live on their land (or otherwise make use of it, e.g. for farming or just for wild land in preservation) should supersede the right of someone else to come in and force them out in order to dig it up.   And make no mistake, it does chase people out of their homes, due to high levels of noise, heavy vehicle traffic, and other direct impacts.  

                  The other thing I would seriously do is impose nonrenewable resource taxes and carbon taxes, to internalize the costs that are presently being externalized to future generations.

                  The core libertarian principle of voluntary transactions between consenting adult parties, is thoroughly violated by the externalization of costs.  The willing parties to the transaction have to bear all of the costs of it, including the costs of zeroing-out their impact on third parties.  

                  That factor by itself would rectify the presently distorted market conditions that favor fossil fuels over non-fossil energy sources.   About half way through the Iraq war I actually ran a spreadsheet and found that the cost of the war up to that point would have been sufficient to convert our electrical grid to entirely non-carbon fuel sources (renewables and fission), build major expansions of intercity and urban rail, and give away a few million hybrid cars.  That is just one example of the "hidden" (externalized) cost of the distorted energy market as it presently stands.

                  "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

                  by G2geek on Fri Jun 15, 2012 at 05:49:18 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

            •  BTW, i did specify "every other speech/press... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              .... resource."

              Only an idiot would assert that physical resources on Earth are unlimited, but I figured I should head that off by specifying "speech/press resources."  

              Information is one quantity in the universe that may be effectively infinite.  And information in the semantic sense (though not in the Shannon sense) also seems to ignore the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics, which, to put it mildly, is "interesting."

              "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

              by G2geek on Fri Jun 15, 2012 at 04:32:16 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I know what you meant. I was just offering an (0+ / 0-)

                analogy. I really have no problem with public ownership of airwaves. I just don't think b/c smth is limited in quantity it necessarily means it has to be government-owned.

      •  I've been in radio since 1979... (0+ / 0-)

        ...and I strongly support reinstating the Fairness Doctrine.

        Let's say your town needs to find some new revenue, so the board of selectmen votes to put a billboard on the roof of the town hall. The billboard is leased to a third party which undertakes to find advertisers.

        Now a real estate developer buys up a chunk of land in town and proposes to build a shopping center. The developer pays to use the billboard to make his case to the people of the town. Many residents are opposed to the project, so they form a coalition to fight it. They too approach the company controlling the billboard, but are refused access because the owner is a stockholder in the real estate development and stands to gain from the shopping mall project. He tells them there are plenty of other billboards around, and suggests they take their business elsewhere.

        Is that fair? No; that billboard belongs to the people of the town, just as the public airwaves belong to the American people. It's not right for a gatekeeper given charge of a public asset to arbitrarily refuse access in pursuit of his own profit. It's corruption, pure and simple.

        Clear Channel and its ilk are given charge of the airwaves as public trustees and charged to operate "in the public interest, convenience, and necessity". Broadcast licensees should either give equal access to all points of view, or be forced to relinquish their licenses. It's not fair for one point of view to be privileged over all others by an abusive trustee.

        •  necturus - we will never agree (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          I understand your point of view and I have written license transfer and renewal applications that deal with the public interest, convenience, and necessity as well as the needs, interests, and aspirations of the community. I don't think that requires giving up revenue to have a broader programing mix or to prohibit you from focusing your broadcast message to attract a specific target audience. Whenever the FCC starts to venture into programming choices, I find that very troublesome.

          "let's talk about that"

          by VClib on Fri Jun 15, 2012 at 05:34:22 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  This is a ridiculous argument (0+ / 0-)

          and ignores the reality of the business. I've been in radio since 1983. We're talking billboards, not radio.
          Do you want to cut your own throat?
          You have no excuse not to know that Fairness would only apply to the terrestrial spectrum.
          Which has enough competition from cable and Sirius/XM as it is.

          "That the people have a right to bear arms for the defence of themselves and the State ..."- Vermont Constitution Chapter 1, Article 16

          by kestrel9000 on Sat Jun 16, 2012 at 12:50:52 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Sirius/XM are irrelevant (0+ / 0-)

            The existence of other media does not change the fact that corrupt gatekeepers are denying opposing viewpoints reasonable access to the public airwaves.

            The gatekeepers cannot argue that economic pressures compel them to do as they are doing. It is not the American people's fault that these villains are over their heads in debt. They must change their ways or surrender their licenses.

            •  Sirius/XM are highly relevant (0+ / 0-)

              as they would not be bound by the same rules as the terrestrial spectrum. With the advent of other media such as satellite and the internet, you propose restrictions that would be unique to the terrestrial spectrum.
              the answer is not the Fairness Doctrine (Ministry of Information Control).
              The solution is to revisit the Telecommunications Act of 1996 and restore the ownership limits, break up the Clear Channels and Cumuluses.

              "That the people have a right to bear arms for the defence of themselves and the State ..."- Vermont Constitution Chapter 1, Article 16

              by kestrel9000 on Sun Jun 17, 2012 at 03:07:39 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  Radio, not billboards. (0+ / 0-)

          "That the people have a right to bear arms for the defence of themselves and the State ..."- Vermont Constitution Chapter 1, Article 16

          by kestrel9000 on Sat Jun 16, 2012 at 12:52:14 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  FD (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        would further balkanize the already struggling terrestrial spectrum and give the right a talking point about liberal government censorship.
        Anyone who supports a return to the Fairness Doctrine is a fucking fool.
        There, I said it.

        "That the people have a right to bear arms for the defence of themselves and the State ..."- Vermont Constitution Chapter 1, Article 16

        by kestrel9000 on Sat Jun 16, 2012 at 02:29:04 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Zapple is different than Fairness Doctrine (0+ / 0-)

      The Zapple rule, which says if a broadcaster provides time to supporters of one candidate in the 60 days prior to an election, it must provide time to supporters of the other (major party) candidate, did indeed come in under the Fairness Doctrine.  But it's underpinnings come from Section 315 of the Communications Act, which says if a broadcaster provides time to one candidate, it must provide equal time to the other.

      So yes, the FCC is grappling with whether or not Zapple is enforceable.  But we have presented an egregious case of broadcasters intentionally promoting only one political party's candidates, and that is an issue the FCC does take seriously.  

      A new rule is possible, but not on the Fairness Doctrine.  The FCC ruled that the F.D. chilled speech rather than enhanced it.  We make the opposite argument for Zapple.

  •  The formal revocation of the Fairness (0+ / 0-)

    ...Doctrine in 1983 by Alzheimer's-stricken President Ronald Reagan -- ended the American public's access to the nation's publicly-owned AM broadcast band. His brain-dead veto created generations of ignorant and uninformed mammals who insist on voting, and destroyed any hope of a functioning democracy in America.

    The public-owned broadcast bands are now controlled by right-wing corporate monopolies -- and they are completely within their constitutional rights to control access to both select opinion and actual facts.

    In other developed nations, such as Canada, this is unconstitutional.

    A petition will not help.

    "Let the Dragon sleep, for when China awakes, she will shake the world." -- Napoleon Bonaparte

    by Pluto on Fri Jun 15, 2012 at 02:00:04 PM PDT

    •  The Constitution is irrelevant (0+ / 0-)

      Since Bush vs. Gore and Citizens United, it's become clear that we live in a plutocracy not a democracy.

      The Republic is dead, even if most Americans don't know it yet.

      I think my ancestors who fought at Concord and Bunker Hill would be dumbfounded to find that two hundred forty-odd years after they fought to escape the yoke of the British monarchy, their Tory neighbors who fled north -- their Canadian descendants, anyway -- are having the last laugh.

    •  This petition does not restore Fairness Doctrine (0+ / 0-)

      From our complaint:
      The Zapple Doctrine refers many times both to Section 315 (a) of the Communications Act, and to the application of the Fairness Doctrine.

      The Fairness Doctrine, which required broadcasters to provide a reasonable opportunity for contrasting views, was abolished in 1987.  It was unwieldy, difficult to enforce, and applied to all broadcast programs.  (Norman Lear, for example, was sued under the Fairness Doctrine because his fictional character "Maude" had an abortion on a TV program.  Opponents sued, saying the broadcaster must air a program where a character did not have an abortion.)  Broadcasters complained that the Fairness Doctrine chilled free speech.  The Commission ultimately decided that the Fairness Doctrine had the effect of reducing rather than enhancing speech, which they said did not serve the public interest as required by law, and abolished it.

      Unlike the Fairness Doctrine, Zapple does not impose blanket rules on stations 365 days a year concerning issues or topics.  It merely, in the critical 60 days prior to an election, provides that both major political parties have a comparable opportunity to express their own freedom of speech on our public airwaves, therefore keeping with the intent of the Communications Act to operate in the public interest and to afford reasonable opportunity for the discussion of conflicting views of issues of public importance, elements that remain the law today.

  •  Signed (0+ / 0-)

    Don't believe it will go anywhere in the near-term, but it's somewhere to start.

    Thank you.

  •  From March 2012 (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    G2geek, FG

    This is a long-ish article. I haven't studied it, but there may be something useful / hopeful to it.

    FCC decision strikes critical blow to right-wing radio dominance

    A Federal Communications Commission (FCC) decision issued Monday (PDF) will clear the runway for hundreds of new community radio stations that broadcast on low-power FM signals, bringing progressive, community voices to urban areas that have for decades only known what’s being broadcast by major corporations and America’s political right.

    In other words, the dismantling of Rush Limbaugh was just the beginning, and the whole FM dial is next.

    The FCC’s decision on Monday wipes away a massive backlog of applications for FM repeater stations, which are transmitters that repeat signals broadcast by corporate and religious radio operators — many of which rake in big listening audiences for right-wing syndicated talk shows.

    •  Low-power FM is ridiculous (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      There are too many stations on the air as it is. Even though I would personally benefit from having more stations needing my services, the public interest is better served by having fewer stations, each with larger shares of the audience pie. As more and more stations proliferate, fewer and fewer can afford to provide services such as local news coverage. Many broadcasters can only keep their heads above water by laying off staff and putting a computer or satellite receiver on the air all day.

      There are few places where a 100-watt FM station can attract enough of an audience to stay alive, except perhaps as an all-volunteer operation serving essentially no one but themselves.

      The proper solution to the problem is not to have everyone standing on his or her roof with a megaphone, but to give them fair access to one of a relative handful of voices that reach the whole community.

      •  necturus - I don't agree (0+ / 0-)

        I think the concept of more local FM stations is great. Why do the stations have to be high powered, or have expensive staff? I favor more speech, even if that speech is provided by community volunteers.

        "let's talk about that"

        by VClib on Fri Jun 15, 2012 at 10:38:05 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The point of broadcasting is to reach an audience (0+ / 0-)

          Low-powered stations can't reach enough people to be viable. They are essentially toys.

          There is no point to broadcasting unless people can hear you. If Clear Channel and Cumulus could reach their audiences with 100 watts, why would they run 50,000?

          Low-powered FM is no way to increase the diversity of viewpoints on radio because none of the stations can effectively compete with a full-power broadcaster.  The numbers don't work.

  •  Attacking RW radio is the most important work we (0+ / 0-)

    can do because it's their most important tool. That fact is magnified because so many liberals ignore it and let it go- it's hitting us with a 2 by 4 and we look other way.

    Challenging RW radIo is the most efficient thing Americans can do to fix democracy.

    This is a list of 76 universities for Rush Limbaugh that endorse global warming denial, racism, sexism, and partisan lying by broadcasting sports on Limbaugh radio stations.

    by certainot on Fri Jun 15, 2012 at 06:11:42 PM PDT

  •  Why is (0+ / 0-)

    there no place to recommend comments?  On some pages no place to reply??

  •  I live in Iowa (0+ / 0-)

    and there is no free progressive talk radio or TV.  Untill we as a group decide thats where our problems come from then my tiny campaign contribution would be better spent elsewhere.  I dont understand where people on this site think the fairness doctrin was a bad idea.  Iowa would not be a battleground state if we had fairness doctrin.  And dont bother me with the internet stuff again because a lot of people around here either cant afford broadband, dont use it, or cant get it where we live.  Almost every body has a TV or radio in their house and car, and thats where we could have the biggest impact.  I sometimes have to question the motives of people that say a fairness doctrin is unfair or unconstitutional. We had it before and it helped a lot.  A good example of this is the healthcare bill.  Surveys say most people like the provisions but dislike the bill.   How do you suppose that happened?

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