Readers of my columns know one thing: I’m no big fan of big
government. I’m certainly no big fan of increasing the size of
government, much to the chagrin of President Bill Clinton and liberals
However, after watching and reporting on events occurring at the
Federal Communications Commission during the month of January, I feel
compelled to say the FCC has certainly pleasantly surprised me. They
have, in my view, not been behaving like a typical federal agency.
Make no mistake: the FCC, like its federal brethren agencies, is a
large operation employing hundreds of people and taking in an annual
budget in the billions of dollars.
But unlike most federal agencies, the FCC has been most responsive
lately. It has been responsive to its professional broadcasting peers,
to the public those broadcasters serve, and — believe it or not — to
the media. In particular, this media’s bastard child,
WorldNetDaily (take no offense; that’s how the establishment media views
- On Jan. 6, the FCC issued special “additional guidelines”
in an order granting an exchange of licenses for a Public Broadcasting
Station (PBS) called WQED in Pittsburgh. The resultant “guidelines” were
seen by many religious broadcasters, Christian Americans and others, as
well as a few congressmen, as blatantly biased against producers of
faith-based television programming.
- On Jan. 12, after public and private outcry from concerned
parties, the FCC issued a statement defending its earlier
The agency said, “The Commission’s decision in this case … does not
establish new rules, but simply clarifies long-standing FCC policy
applicable to any broadcaster seeking to use an NCE- (non-commercial
education) reserved channel.”
- Then on Friday, the agency “vacated” those new special
completely, reversing their decision, in essence, while allowing the
original order granting the exchange of licenses to stand.
What happened here? Since when do federal agencies — especially
those serving the Clinton administration — give a darn about public
outcry, especially from the religious sector?
I’ll tell you what happened.
Throughout this odyssey, the FCC made a special effort to call
WorldNetDaily each time commissioners met and issued new statements
pertaining to this case. On Friday in particular, I received not one but
two calls from two separate spokesmen at the FCC to advise WND
that the decision had been changed.
Now that’s responsiveness; and in this day and age of
absenteeism from federal agencies, it was a refreshing breath of air.
Furthermore — again, in my view — the FCC made a very sound
judgment when they eliminated those “additional guidelines” — rules
which, I believe, any reasonable person could see were tainted
against religious broadcasters. What’s more, the decision to pull them
was by a larger margin (4-to-1) than the original decision to add them
I think that is amazing. And for me, the behavior of the FCC over
these last few weeks has earned them back some lost respect.
Does this mean WND will no longer keep an eye on the Federal
Communications Commission? Of course not; that’s our job — it’s our
mission to keep a watchful eye on the actions of every
government agency, each legislator, the president, the Justice
Department and everyone else remotely connected with the federal, state
and local governments in this country.
Rather, this simply is a well deserved acknowledgement of actions
from an agency that has taken it on the chin from guys like me many
times in the past (not that they shouldn’t have, mind you).
Even if the commission had not vacated these special guidelines, I
feel it’s important to let the FCC know I appreciate their efforts to
keep WND and our readers apprised of their decisions in this case.
Their behavior ought to be a model for all federal agencies. If we
gotta pay for the darned things, the least the people who work for them
can do is answer their phones and talk to us once in a while.