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Friday, August 28, 2009

FCC Diversity Czar Mark Lloyd: Forget the Fairness Doctrine

"In our report, we call for ownership rules that we think will create greater local diversity of programming, news, and commentary. And we call for more localism by putting teeth into the licensing rules. But we do not call for a return to the Fairness Doctrine."

"Despite what we thought was fairly stark evidence of conservative bias, despite clear proposals to address that bias, Rush Limbaugh and other distortionists insisted that we were calling for a “return” of the Fairness Doctrine. But as we wrote, 'simply reinstating the Fairness Doctrine will do little to address the gap between conservative and progressive talk unless the underlying elements of the public trustee doctrine are enforced, in particular, the requirements of local accountability and the reasonable airing of important matters.' ”

"But the image of eager federal bureaucrats peering over the shoulders of all of America’s radio talk show hosts with a stopwatch in hand is as absurd as it is impractical."

"We want to create more ownership opportunities and more speech focused on local interests. We want either clear rules that promote these First Amendment values or a reasonable payment to the public for the use of its property."

"All of these public policy objectives are there for Congress and the FCC to act upon within current law. There is no need to return to the Fairness Doctrine."

Recommendations from "The Structural Imbalance of Political Talk Radio:
  • National radio ownership by any one entity should not exceed 5 percent of the total number of AM and FM broadcast stations.
  • In terms of local ownership, no one entity should control more than 10 percent of the total commercial radio stations in a given market
  • All radio broadcast licensees should be required to use a standardized form to provide information on how the station serves the public interest in a variety of areas.
  • Provide a license to radio broadcasters for a term no longer than three years.
  • Require radio broadcast licensees to regularly show that they are operating on behalf of the public interest and provide public documentation and viewing of how they are meeting these obligations.
  • Demand that the radio broadcast licensee announce when its license is about to expire and demonstrate how the public can participate in the processto determine whether the license should be extended. In addition, the FCC should be required to maintain a website to conduct on-line discussions and facilitate interaction with public about licensee conduct.
  • If commercial radio broadcasters are unwilling to abide by these regulatory standards or the FCC is unable to effectivelyregulate in the public interest, a spectrum use fee should be levied on owners to directly support local, regional, and national public broadcasting.
Recommendations from Mark Llyod's Prologue to a Farce:
Prologue to a Farce on Google Books

(Page 277) "Broadcasters should pay for the great privilege of a federally protected license to operate a business by using the publicly owned spectrum."

(Page 278) “Federal and regional broadcast operations and local stations should be funded at levels commensurate with or above those spending levels at which commercial operations are funded,” Lloyd wrote. “This funding should come from license fees charged to commercial broadcasters. Funding should not come from congressional appropriations. Sponsorship should be prohibited at all public broadcasters.”

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