17 novembre 2008

Timori di par condicio: ma Obama fa radio su YouTube

E' molto interessante seguire il dibattito sulla possibile reintroduzione della legge sulla par condicio in corso sulla stampa americana nel day after di Barack Obama. Per la verità la normativa della "fairness doctrine", abolita dalla FCC all'epoca di Reagan, è uno spauracchio agitato soprattutto dalle talk radio di destra e da parte democratica i commentatori gettano acqua sul fuoco della polemica continuando a ribadire che nessuno ha intenzione di ritornare su quei passi. Ecco due recenti contributi alla discussione, quello del Los Angeles Times e quello di un radio host conservatore di Dallas, Lynn Woolley, che nel 2007 ha pubblicato un "profetico" libro intitolato The Death of Talk Radio (per approfondire il punto di vista conservatore si può fare riferimento al sito Accuracy in the Media, finanziato dai commentatori della "destra radiofonica").
Intanto, il president elect fa discutere tutta la stampa e la blogosfera con la sua ultima mossa mediatica: il "president elect generated content" (dopo lo "user generated content"). Il "Weekly address to the nation" presidenziale, trasmesso ogni settimana dalle stazioni radio, diventa anche un filmato YouTube che si può ascoltare sul sito Change.gov (qualcuno ha un fazzoletto?), dove viene pubblicato anche il transcript, utilissimo per i non udenti e per chi non mastica bene l'inglese parlato. Non credo che una presidenza del genere abbia davvero bisogno di ricorrere ai mezzucci e alle censure.

Right-wing radio sounds false alarm on 'Fairness Doctrine'

Impose a mandate on broadcasters to balance their political views? That would be onerous indeed. But memo to Rush: Nobody's asking for that.

On The Media

November 14, 2008

One of the favorite rallying cries on conservative radio these days is that the president-elect might face demands from his crazed lefty pals to revive the "Fairness Doctrine" to muzzle Rush, Sean and their allies on the right end of the radio dial.
Commentators like Larry Elder of KABC here in Los Angeles have been sounding the warning about the possible imminent return of federal rules mandating that broadcasters balance out political views on radio and television.
Newt Gingrich asserted not long ago that the Democrats certainly would mount "an effort to eliminate freedom of speech for Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity." Limbaugh responded, "It's going to be more than just me and Hannity whose freedom of speech will be done away with via the Fairness Doctrine."
Indeed, it would be a shame if Congress or a Barack Obama-controlled Federal Communications Commission wasted time resurrecting the rules, which were abolished in 1987. President Reagan and his FCC decided there were enough alternative outlets for a range of opinion.
Two decades later -- in an age when a host of political views spark and burn across cable television and the Internet -- a reimposition of the rules would seem quaintly anachronistic. I think Rush and the boys have it right on this one: The free market offers plenty of room for liberals to have their say, even in an era when the vast multitude of radio stations are owned by a few conglomerates.
The radio right, though, has it wrong in predicting a free-speech apocalypse on the near horizon. They insist Democrats in Congress or on a newly constituted FCC will reimpose the Fairness Doctrine. That would force radio owners, the story goes, to air hopelessly dull liberal programs to balance out fascinating conservative commentary. Faced with these onerous requirements, radio owners would cut air time for conservatives or jettison political talk altogether rather than be saddled with money-losing liberals.
It's a nice plot line, and lots of people seem to be expending tremendous energy fretting about it. But let's just say that the imminent reimposition of the Fairness Doctrine is, as Archie Bunker liked to say, a pigment of their imagination. Yes, a few Democratic lawmakers have recently talked about supporting such regulation, rules they say could be justified to protect a scarce public resource -- the public airwaves.
In October, Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) told a conservative Albuquerque talker that he supported the Fairness Doctrine. "I would want this station and all stations to have to present a balanced perspective and different points of view," Bingaman said, "instead of always hammering away at one side of the political [spectrum]."
Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) is another lawmaker who has expressed an interest in bringing back the rules. Rep. Maurice D. Hinchey (D-N.Y.) has considered reintroducing a media ownership reform law, to try to expand and diversify control of radio and television outlets. But it's unclear whether that measure would include a Fairness Doctrine, as an earlier Hinchey proposal did.
Conservatives cite those comments in justifying their fears. But they also make a determined effort to ignore the politics of the moment. Democrats like Bingaman have made it clear they do not view the Fairness Doctrine as politically feasible. They have cited numerous more urgent priorities for Democrats to address. And they have said they have no intention of forcing the issue.
As on many other issues, they want the new Obama administration to take the lead. And the president-elect, as a candidate last summer, said unequivocally that he did not support reimposing the Fairness Doctrine. "He considers this debate to be a distraction from the conversation we should be having about opening up the airwaves and modern communication to as many diverse viewpoints as possible," said spokesman Michael Ortiz. Several right-wing bloggers interpret that as mere Obama code and baldly assert that the Democrats will surely bring back the fairness rules to thwart their enemies on talk radio.
If the left wing is gearing up for such a push, I had trouble detecting it. A search of the liberal Daily Kos website turned up almost no mentions of the Fairness Doctrine. And the site's founder, Markos Moulitsas, said by e-mail Thursday that he sensed "zero impetus" to make the change. "The right is using it as a straw man to build hysteria and opposition to the incoming Democratic administration and Congress," Moulitsas opined. "But there are zero serious efforts to make it happen." Yes, conservatives dominate talk radio -- by one count controlling three-quarters of the programming. That might seem inherently unfair.
But liberals have found numerous outlets in other media, including websites like Daily Kos and Huffington Post, daytime programs like ABC's "The View," and nighttime cable shows like those hosted by MSNBC's Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow. What sense would it make to impose a government program to monitor all that broadcast blather, hour by hour? Wouldn't that provoke a constitutional challenge
Yes, the 8th Amendment still prohibits cruel and unusual punishment.


Lynn Woolley: Unfair and unbalanced liberals

November 12, 2008

The Lynn Woolley Show is now live on AM 1160 KVCE in Dallas-Fort Worth weekdays at 8 a.m. His website is www.BeLogical.com.

In our 2007 book The Death of Talk Radio? Cliff Kincaid and I warned that if Democrats were to retake the White House, they would implement their plan to dismantle conservative talk radio. It didn't take long. On Election Day, Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York went on Fox saying, "I think we should all be fair and balanced, don't you?"
Mr. Schumer may have thought he was being clever, but talk radio hosts such as myself have reason to be wary. Anyone who is a consumer of talk radio either for entertainment or to keep up with current events should be concerned. Mr. Schumer was not being cute; he was being arrogant.
With the election over, and with the Democrats about to control both houses of Congress, the White House, and – with President Obama's appointment power – the federal judiciary, liberals like Mr. Schumer and organizations like Media Matters for America have no reason to hold back. They don't believe the First Amendment has any relevance to talk radio and they intend to end conservative dominance of the dial.
It's not like they've been all that stealthy anyway. The Media Act bill, introduced by Rep. Louise Slaughter of New York, has been floating around for a long time. And Democrats such as Sen. Dick Durbin, Sen. Diane Feinstein and Rep. Dennis Kucinich have pined for a "Hush Rush" measure.
But Mr. Schumer took it a step forward, practically announcing that the era of talk radio is over: "The very same people who don't want the Fairness Doctrine want the FCC to limit pornography on the air. I am for that. But you can't say government hands off in one area to a commercial enterprise but you are allowed to intervene in another. That's not consistent." So Mr. Schumer is comparing conservative talk radio to pornography, is he?
The Democrats themselves have two rising media stars: Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow, both on talk-cable and both on MSNBC. Mr. Olbermann is a flaming liberal and Ms. Maddow, while not as intentionally objectionable in her rhetoric, is just as far left. During the election cycle, their shows shot into the 1 million viewer range, putting them in the rarefied air of Fox's numbers.
Potentially, the Democrats could put a cork in Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity (on radio) and Michael Savage while leaving Mr. Olbermann and Ms. Maddow unscathed. That's because cable TV is subscription based. Unfair? Maybe. But we are talking about an unbalanced Congress in more ways than one.
"Fairness isn't going to hurt anybody. I just can't imagine these people who want to fight against fairness," said Ms. Slaughter to Bill Moyers back in 2004. But this is "media fairness" in the same way that Mr. Obama promises to spread "economic justice." Mr. Obama's long-used term is code for "spread the wealth" just as the "Fairness Doctrine" is an Orwellian name for shutting up the opposition.
Seeing this coming, Rep. Mike Pence introduced "The Broadcaster Freedom Act" in 2007, which would prevent government tampering with free speech on the air. At that time, all Republicans signed on to sponsor the bill. A lone Democrat, Rep. John Yarmuth of Kentucky, co-sponsored it. That speaks volumes about how Democrats feel about censorship.
The Fairness Doctrine is going to make a comeback and the only thing that might stop it is the American people. They must realize that if the new liberal majority takes away the right of talk hosts to comment – it is also taking away their right to listen.

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