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."
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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