Drew Zahn is a WND news editor who cut his journalist teeth as a member of the award-winning staff of Leadership, Christianity Today's professional journal for church leaders. A former pastor, he is the editor of seven books, including Movie-Based Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching, which sparked his ongoing love affair with film and his weekly WND column, "Popcorn and a (world)view."More ↓Less ↑
The Federal Communications Commission has announced the roster of a new advisory committee on “diversity” in communications, a move many critics have warned would mark the beginning of government regulation of talk radio and a reinstallation of the “Fairness Doctrine” by another name.
As WND reported, a think tank headed by John Podesta, co-chairman of Obama’s transition team, mapped out a strategy in 2007 for clamping down on conservative talk radio by requiring stations to be operated by female and minority owners, which the report showed were statistically more likely to carry liberal political talk shows.
Therefore, the report concluded, the best strategy for getting equal time for “progressives” on radio lies in mandating “diversity of ownership” without ever needing to mention the former FCC policy of requiring airtime for liberal viewpoints, known as the “Fairness Doctrine.”
Now, Michael J. Copps, acting chairman of the FCC has announced that the “Commission’s Advisory Committee on Diversity for Communications in the Digital Age” will meet at the FCC headquarters on May 7 with a purpose closely paralleling step one of Podesta’s plan for “balancing” talk radio.
The mission of the new diversity committee, according to the FCC website, is to “make recommendations to the FCC regarding policies and practices that will further enhance the ability of minorities and women to participate in telecommunications and related industries.”
Seton Motley, director of communications for the Media Research Center, further commented on the lineup of 31 activists and media moguls chosen to form the committee.
“Not a single conservative organization is taking part in this commission,” Motley writes. “More than a dozen leftist groups are. A little ironic for a ‘diversity’ panel, is it not?”
“The Obama administration confirmed the worst fears of talk radio by appointing Henry Rivera chairman,” writes WND commentator Roger Hedgecock. “Rivera was the 1980s FCC commissioner who championed the ‘Fairness Doctrine.’ President Reagan replaced him on the FCC to get a majority to repeal the ‘Fairness Doctrine’ and usher in the talk radio era, which has given conservative Americans for the first time a media outlet with real clout.”
The FCC abandoned the “Fairness Doctrine” in 1987, paving the way for talk radio to explode from fewer than 150 stations nationwide to more than 3,000. But many of those stations carry popular syndicated programming from politically conservative hosts like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, prompting some politicians to seek more “balance” on the airwaves.
As WND has reported, Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, has joined up with other influential Democrats, including President Bill Clinton, Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa and Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, in calling for a resurrection of the so-called “Fairness Doctrine.”
And President Obama, while he has eschewed support for the “Fairness Doctrine” by name, has made statements in speeches and on the White House website that read as through they were taken directly from Podesta’s plan for using “diversity” to make radio more “fair.”
WND reported video of an Obama speech before he was elected president in which the former Illinois legislator says, “I’m committed to having the FCC review what our current policies are in terms of media diversification. And part of what I want to do is to expand the diversity of voices in media, or have policies that encourage that.”
In a statement regarding the new diversity committee, Acting FCC Chairman Copps expressed enthusiasm for fulfilling Obama’s commitment.
“I am extremely pleased to announce the membership of this vital Advisory Committee,” Copps stated, “which will provide an important and independent voice for strengthening our commitment to diversity. The sad truth is that the diversity of this great nation is not reflected in the ownership of its media and telecommunications facilities. The time has come to chart a new course, to roll up our sleeves and get to work to craft sustainable solutions.”
The full membership of the committee is listed below:
Henry Rivera, Emma Bowen Foundation for Minority Interests in Media
Rauï€ˆl Alarcï€ˆon, Jr., Spanish Broadcasting System
Jenny Alonzo, Mio.TV
James M. Assey, Jr., National Cable and Telecommunications Association
Geoffrey C. Blackwell, Chickasaw Nation Industries, Inc.
Matthew Blank, Showtime Networks
Maria E. Brennan, American Women in Radio and Television
Kathy Brown, Verizon
Toni Cook Bush, Virgin Mobile
Alan B. Davidson, Google, Inc.
Ralph de la Vega, AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets
Steve Hillard, Council Tree Communications
David Honig, Minority Media and Telecommunications Council
Rodney Hood, National Credit Union Administration
Ronald Johnson, Ronson Network Services
Debra Lee, BET Holdings, Inc.
Jane Mago, National Association of Broadcasters
Robert Mendez, ABC Television Network
Marc H. Morial, National Urban League
Karen K. Narasaki, Asian American Justice Center
Melissa Newman, Qwest
Jake Oliver, Afro-American Newspapers
Susan K. Patrick, Patrick Communications
Lisa Pickrum, The RLJ Companies
Rey Ramsey, One Economy Corporation
Michael V. Roberts, Roberts Broadcasting Companies LLC
Andrew Schwartzman, Media Access Project
Anita Stephens Graham, Opportunity Capital Partners
Diane Sutter, Shooting Star Broadcasting
Charles Warfield, Inner City Broadcasting
James Winston, National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters