L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 302, January 16, 2005
"We now return you to your regularly scheduled agitation."
Time To Dissolve the FCC
Exclusive to TLE
In all the GOP campaigns of recent times, one of the major planks was the abolition of government departments and agencies. Of course, once in power, the Republicans not only forgot that plank but actually pumped more money into those functions than their Democrat counterparts. I suggest the kind of incremental approach to decreasing government that the Democrats have used so successfully to increase government. I propose we start with an agency that is one of the most the most dangerous to freedom, the Federal Communications Commission.
The FCC is an anachronism, founded in a time when there was no commercial TV and radio transmitters (and receivers) were huge, heat generating, unwieldy, power-sucking behemoths, so expensive and hard to control that it was thought there would only be a limited number in any given market. That's why the famous requirement for "broadcasting in the public interest" seemed to make sense.
The government also tortured the concept of property to allow them to say that the airwaves were "owned" by the people, or more to the point, the government. It would be like a nation saying they "own" the ocean. Only government can warp logic so far and not be questioned.
Today there are thousands of radio and TV broadcasters and any point of view can find an outlet. There are also the emerging technologies of local, low-power FM radio, low-power television and satellite radio that would allow even more expression of "public interest" if the FCC only weren't standing in the way.
It's time to restrict the FCC's purview to the function of preventing broadcast stations from interfering with one another and get it out of the politically charged (and lucrative) area of controlling content. But when is the last time you saw government give up any power???
The FCC has become a political fiefdom because both parties want to be able to control, or at least influence, the dissemination of information. It just can't resist shoving its collective nose into anything even remotely connected with electronic communications. Especially when they can use government guns to increase their authority. The print media has the protection of the First Amendment, the courts have said the electronic media are not similarly protected. And oh, how they yearn to get their grubby hands on the Internet.
The current flap began during the 2004 Super Bowl halftime entertainment when a couple of second rate celebrities decided to spice up their performance with the exposure of one of the female participant's mammary glands.
The prissy blue-hair and tight-butted moralists in the audience were aghast at such depravity and were determined that not only should it never happen again, but that the perpetrators should be punished to the fullest extent of the law. Enter the lapdogs of the FCC.
They pouted and harumphed and allowed as how the exposure was tantamount to encouraging the populace to engage in sin and debauchery on an epic scale. Of course such heinous acts were to be punished in the time honored government way, fine the companies whose signal carried the evil sight into the homes of innocent Americans.
*** By the way, did you ever wonder what happens to the fines collected in such situations and how much of it winds up in the fin-ers pocket? Just a thought. ***
In any case, This opened the floodgates and the race to "protect" us was on.
Every two-bit organization that had any connection to morality or "the children" rushed to find any excuse to place their gripes before the FCC. Forget the First Amendment, they roared, we have to stop this deluge of smut before we all perish.
Words were parsed and images were microscopically analyzed to insure proper decorum and the FCC dutifully warned all concerned that no erotic or strong language chicanery would be allowed.
Then came the infamous Monday Night Football game preshow in which a towel-clad actress flung herself upon a football player, ostensibly in the locker room. The network is still waiting for the fallout from that.
On Veterans Day, 2004, a major network was scheduled to air the critically acclaimed and Oscar winning film "Saving Private Ryan" in tribute to those who served America in the armed forces. Problem was, the movie is filled with violent imagery and sprinkled with crude expletives. Never mind that veterans who were at Normandy have said that it is the most accurate depiction ever made of that horrendous time, some station execs were so terrified of the FCC that they decided to show "Return To Mayberry," a paean to mindless drivel, in its place.
It's only the beginning of the predations of the FCC. They smell blood and will not be deterred. The only way to keep them from taking over the airwaves and reducing communications to morally acceptable pap is to disband them and let the free market of ideas take control. The FCC would be a good place for the "smaller government" faction of the party in power to start.
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