In announcing recently that the Fairness Doctrine would soon be removed from the books, the FCC took one small step into the information age. Unfortunately there is still plenty of media regulation that is stuck in the industrial age and in serious need of rethinking.
A major problem with government regulation of business is that it is based upon markets as they exist at the time regulations are imposed. In the case of radio, this body of law has largely been the Radio Act of 1927, the Communications Act of 1934, and the Fairness Doctrine adopted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 1949. The nature of the problem becomes clear when you recognize that there were fewer than 3000 radio stations in 1949 compared with some 14,000 today.
The Fairness Doctrine has required radio stations to air opposing points of view. So, for example, if a radio host or guest favored a particular policy, the station was obligated to air a message against. Perhaps this made more sense when a geographic market had few stations, but today every point of view under the sun finds its way into the thousands of media outlets available, so the market itself provides plenty of protection for minority views. Really, the only question should be why it took government regulators so long to catch up to market realities.
But while we celebrate this small step, we must acknowledge that government has so far to go to square up government policy with market realities of the media age. Take the equal time rule, which is a kind of companion to the Fairness Doctrine requiring that, if one candidate for office appears, other candidates must be given equal time. This rule is also anachronistic and has been so swallowed up in exceptions as to be meaningless. If Donald Trump were to run for president, for example, his appearances on “The Apprentice” might require equal time for other candidates, unless the show was on cable television, which is a meaningless distinction these days. If a candidate sits down for a few minutes with Letterman or Leno, another exception for “news/interviews” ridiculously comes into play. Isn’t it time for “equal time” to go the way of the Fairness Doctrine?
And, while we’re at it, how about government subsidies and funding for public broadcasting? Again, these may have made sense when there were only 3 or 4 television networks, but if there is a need for their programs today, shouldn’t they have to compete for funding and air time with everyone else? I find little justification for a near-bankrupt government to spend money on television and radio programs when we live in a 24-7 media cycle.
So one cheer for the FCC. But I’ll hold off on three cheers until more work is done to align government policy toward media with the market realities of the media age.
Read the piece on Advancing a Free Society here: http://www.advancingafreesociety.org/2011/08/28/fairness-doctrine/
California: A Season of Reform? (Advancing a Free Society) August 26, 2011Posted by daviddavenport in Policy Articles & Papers.
Until the California economy (and tax revenues) begins to recover, a window of opportunity remains open for fiscal and governance reforms in the state. Slow, quietly, such reforms have begun, first with the enactment of redistricting reform and then the open primary. This week the California Assembly has before it SB 14, which calls for performance-based budgeting, and SB 15, which requires a multi-year budget.
This summer, several California organizations joined together to set the stage for additional reforms by convening the first statewide California Deliberative Poll. We brought together a scientific random sample of 412 Californians to spend a weekend deliberating over additional reforms that might help get the state moving again. The results of these deliberations were announced this week: http://www.nextca.org/.
Even though 70% of those participating questioned whether the California legislature was able to “get important things done,” after deliberation most felt that increasing the length of terms and even growing the size of the legislature would strengthen the legislative process. But they want the legislature to be held accountable to identify funding for new programs or tax cuts, establish a rainy day fund, and do performance-based budgeting.
In its 100th anniversary year, the initiative process gets strong support, but California voters find these ballot measures confusing. They would like a citizen review board to clarify initiatives and want initiatives to identify sources of any needed funding. And voters clearly want devolution of both decision-making and money from Sacramento to local governments.
California Forward (on whose board I serve), Think Long (on whose board Hoover fellows Condoleezza Rice and George Shultz serve) and other groups plan to use these Deliberative Poll results to press for legislative changes and likely one or more ballot initiatives in November, 2012. It is possible that those who say California is ungovernable will be pleasantly surprised by several important reforms during this open window.
To see the article in Advancing a Free Society click here: http://www.advancingafreesociety.org/2011/08/26/ca-season-of-reform/
A Welcome Addition (Townhall.com) August 26, 2011Posted by daviddavenport in Radio Commentaries.
With President Obama’s polling numbers dropping, and his support from
independent voters eroding, he certainly looks beatable in 2012. But the race is not simply a “yes” or “no” vote on Obama. It will take a Republican with broad appeal to win.
Perhaps Rick Perry is a Republican who can win. First, in a party with conservatives of many stripes—fiscal, social, Constitutional and religious—Perry appears to be conservative across the board. As a governor, he has cut spending, kept taxes low and balanced the budget.
He seems to have a message with broader appeal as well—his state has grown jobs, which is the number one issue on the minds of voters. He is well spoken, has charisma and, as one study says is required, even has good hair!
Rick Perry is a welcome addition to a large field that, to this point, many feel had lacked sufficiently conservative credentials and star quality.
Click here to listen to the audio: http://townhall.com/talkradio/dailycommentary/610706
Tags: Presidential Elections
To view the full presentation, please click here: Presidential Campaigns from Modern to Postmodern