Originally published: May 22, 2012
Last updated: May 22, 2012 - 10:00pm
[Commentary] There is much talk amongst radio talk show hosts about their rights of Free Speech. I do not condone any kind of censorship (outside incitement to violence,) and agree radio talkers have their rights. But so do We the People, and it is time we stand up for them. Right now. Starting in Wisconsin.
As evidenced in recent broadcasts from Wisconsin in midst of the Scott Walker recall election, to the doubling of Right Wing programming from the station in Sacramento that launched Rush Limbaugh, to the fact that 90 percent of the nation can hear only one political diatribe, "private censorship" has crept into our public airwaves. This corporate creation is damaging our democracy. The courts have actually ruled on behalf of We the People, but thanks to private censorship, We the People don't even know it. Despite what big corporate media tells us again and again, especially on the radio, broadcasting operates under unique rules designed to protect the public interest. Let me explain why broadcasting enjoys special treatment in the name of the public. Newspapers are private enterprise: anyone with enough capital can start a newspaper and write what they will. Cable TV is also private enterprise: when people write a check to Comcast or Direct TV, they pay private contractors, via cable or satellite, to bring programs from Playboy to Disney into their homes. But broadcasting, local radio and TV, is a public/private partnership: the public owns the airwaves needed for transmission; private business own the buildings, equipment, etc. needed to broadcast programming. When private business goes into broadcasting, it makes a deal with the public: a free license from the Federal Communication Commission -- if it agrees to "serve the public interest, convenience, and necessity."
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