While some have been speculating about the intent of an extensive Federal Communications Commission survey of U.S. newsrooms, entirely unreported is that the agency’s former “diversity czar” spelled out how collecting such data can be used to regulate the news media.
Last May, the FCC contracted an outside firm to conduct a “Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs,” which will collect information from private newsroom employees on demographics, editorial view, selection of news topics, management style and more.
The FCC says the study will cover “the process by which stories are selected” and the frequency with which stations report on “critical information needs.” The agency will determine if there is any “perceived station bias” or “perceived responsiveness to underserved populations.”
The survey is so troubling that one of the FCC’s own commissioners, Ajit Pai, warned against it in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece earlier this week.
“The government has no place pressuring media organizations into covering certain stories,” Pai wrote.
Pai contended that while newsroom participation in the survey may officially be voluntary, broadcasters will find it difficult to decline since “they would be out of business without an FCC license, which must be renewed every eight years.”
The intent of the study can perhaps be divined by the writings of Mark Lloyd, who served as FCC’s associate general counsel and chief diversity officer from 2009-2012.
Lloyd was also a senior fellow at the heavily influential Center for American Progress, or CAP, and served as a consultant to George Soros’ Open Society Institute.
CAP’s founder, John Podesta, was recently appointed as White House counselor.
Lloyd co-authored a 2007 CAP study titled “The Structural Imbalance of Political Talk Radio.”
The 40-page report, reviewed in full by WND, recommended radio station “ownership diversity,” citing data claiming stations “owned by women, minorities, or local owners are statistically less likely to air conservative hosts or shows.”
Lloyd wrote that all radio stations should be required to “provide information on how the station serves the public interest in a variety of areas.”
The CAP report specifically called on the FCC to mandate all 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.”
Lloyd and co-authors lamented the FCC “renews broadcast licensees with a postcard renewal, and while it once promised random audits of stations it has never conducted a single audit.”
In a follow up to the CAP report, Lloyd penned a 2007 article at CAP’s website titled “Forget the Fairness Doctrine.”
In the piece, Lloyd claimed that Citadel Broadcasting, then the owner of major U.S. radio stations, “refuses” to air the progressive Ed Shultz radio show. Lloyd offered no evidence that Citadel made the decision based on politics rather than Shultz’s low ratings.
Lloyd called for new “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 rule,” he said.
“Localism” is a reference to the FCC rule that requires radio and TV stations to serve the local community’s interests, one of which, according to the Obama administration, is “diversity of programming.”
In 2009, FoxNews.com reported Lloyd called for “equal opportunity employment practices,” “local engagement” and “license challenges” to rectify what he perceived as an imbalance in talk radio and news coverage.
Lloyd is a follower of socialist guru Saul Alinsky, and has advocated having “white people” step down from positions of power to allow “more people of color, gays” and “other people” to take those positions.
He discussed imposing a 100 percent tax on broadcast outlets to fund alternative viewpoints.
He previously lauded Hugo Chavez at a June 2008 Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, saying the late Venezuelan socialist dictator had led “really an incredible revolution – a democratic revolution.”