Thursday, June 19, 2008

The FCC and the 400 pound cat

http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20080615-save-the-red-lion.html
Today seems to be all about communication. Red Lion what?!

Red Lion, as I learned today, is a decision made by the Supreme Court that falls in lock-step with the defunct Fairness Doctrine. You may remember from a few months back that several left-wing groups stated beating the grass, in hopes that they could raise enough ire amongst the people and force the FCC to re-adopt the Fairness Doctrine. Why? The left was desperately afraid of AM radio, which then, as now, was ruled buy the center-to-right wingers.

What's happening in this story, is that there are several "pro-family" groups that want the Supreme Court to leave the Red Lion decision alone. The Supreme Court is discussing how best to address the FCCs Fleeting Explicative rules and as they do so, the Court may come to realize that the way that the FCC has been handing out fines reveals that either the FCC doesn't know how to enforce a policy, or is biased as hell towards some broadcasters.

Red Lion is brought up because these Puritanical Nanny groups are worried that if the Court looks too closely at the powers that the FCC has they'll realize that it is too powerful, and it wields those powers in a manner that's completely disconnected from reality, and out of line with the will of the people. The thing is, these groups are smart enough to realize that as the world moves away from television entertainment, the powers of the FCC should grow smaller and smaller.

They worry that the Supreme Court will see the FCC for the house of cards that it is. For example, the Children's Television Policy (which mandates child friendly or educational programming) is based on the Red Lion case that these groups are so worried about. The Red Lion case was won because, at the time, the Fairness Doctrine was still enforced. These interest groups know exactly how poorly constructed and enforced the FCC's rules are and this amicus brief, that pleads with the Supreme Court to ignore a ruling based on a defunct policy, because it will affect children's television, being filed prior to a case investigating the FCC policy on expletives -- Should raise a hell of a lot of alarms.

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