Many of the people who I hear harping about the government stepping on their Constitutional rights are selective in their outrage. They have an endless reserve of anger about government incursions on the particular part of the Constitution that affects them or their particular special interest, but couldn't give a damn about any other part. Why? Because we have become a nation of self-interested, self-serving people who could care less about anything that falls out of our limited areas of interest.
It seems like every time I mention the issue of net neutrality on Twitter, everyone grows strangely silent. Whether you realize it or not, net neutrality is today's embodiment of both free speech and freedom of the press. Even that choice fact doesn't seem to be enough to motivate some of the folks who usually get all bent out of shape about the slightest bit of corporate censorship on the mainstream media into fighting for a free, uncensored, unencumbered and unmetered internet. I expect that from people who narrowly focus on gun control or their style of so called religious “freedom” that frees them to enslave others, but not from a number of free speech advocates and not from many of the people who purport to to be “liberals.”
The latest net neutrality court decision knocks down the FCC 's pro-net neutrality rules enacted in 2010 and basically gives cable and telephone corps. the power to speed up, slow down or out and out block any website or portion of the internet that they desire! That decision was based on a technicality in the FCC rules that was put in during the Bush administration that defined the internet as being a data service as opposed to it being a telecommunications service. It says that the FCC only had the authority to regulate telecommunications services and by protecting net neutrality, overstepped its authority. That translates to corporations winning out over the rest of us on a technicality!
The fix that will restore the pro-net neutrality rules is simple. The FCC must redefine the internet as being a telecommunications service subject to all applicable FCC and state public service commission rules and regulations. They want to do that but need our encouragement and support to counteract corporate special interests by showing them that we want it accomplished!
If you don't want the internet to become a mirror of the mainstream broadcast media with a few mega corps. literally owning it and deciding who the winners and losers will be, now is the time for action! The choice is yours, you can sit on the sidelines and keep watching some idiotic “reality” show or you can get involved by signing petitions, contacting the FCC and supporting the many pro free speech organizations who are fighting for an open internet!
Ever since Rush Limbaugh made those horrendous comments about Sandra Fluke, many people, myself included, have been and are up in arms. There has been a massive grass roots campaign to convince advertisers not to advertise on his show. Many advertisers, being sensitive to public opinion, have responded by pulling their ads. Needless to say, our voices are being heard about this situation.
Though we are seeing the early results of people power in action, it makes one wonder how much change those grassroots efforts will bring about? Will merely getting his show canceled fix the circumstances that helped to spawn the flock of conservative talk shows that dominate the radio airwaves or just silence Rush? Will it fix the flood of, what I feel is, intentional misinformation that many of the conservative talk shows spew out on a daily basis? The answer is a resounding NO!
The only way that talk radio will become anything more than a medium that spews out right-wing propaganda and serves as giant megaphone for mega-corporations that want to reduce us to mere servitude, is by each one of us putting the same effort into making our electeds re-regulate the broadcast media that we did in the current situation with Limbaugh. We need to make sure that our electeds restore the old regulatory standards that were decimated under the Reagan and Clinton administrations. We need to let them know that the airwaves are not bits of electronic real estate to be auctioned off to the highest bidder, but are a natural resource that is owned by each and every one of us and assigned to those who can prove that they will use their licenses to operate in the public convenience, interest and necessity.
What that translates to is, to paraphrase the Occupy movement; WHOSE AIRWAVES? OUR AIRWAVES! Remember, whoever controls the broadcast media, controls the hearts and minds of most Americans. If we can get the airwaves back, we'll get our country back!
Part Two Of The Five Part Series-Don't Be Upset With Us, At Least We're Not Republicans!
Examining the actual role of the Democratic Party In post Reagan America.
Let's take a look at the role today's broadcast media plays in the success or failure of a candidate's political campaign. Politicians are addicted to campaign ads. They need to run tons of ads and have friendly PACs and thinly veiled, corporately funded, issue oriented pressure groups run ads that help them advance their campaign. Translation, he who runs the most ads or has that done for him usually wins. This takes money: To quote Max Bialystock in the classic Mel Brooks comedy film, The Producers, "money is honey". To quote the great philosopher Jack Wade, "In today's America, bucks buy ballots".
I'm not saying that our politicians have always needed to finance major TV and Radio advertising campaigns to the extent they are today, I am saying that certain changes in the basic structure of the American broadcast media make that essential to any campaign. Prior to the Reagan administration and it's passion for deregulating government agencies that protect the public interest, the FCC was a model government agency. FCC regulations made sense and were there to protect the public's interest. The regulations regarded the broadcast spectrum (TV channels and radio frequencies) as being a natural resource, owned by the American public. An FCC license wasn't a corporate right, it was a privilege to be earned by proving that you can operate the station, to quote the radio act of 1927 and the communications act of 1934, "in the public interest, convenience and necessity". A corporation or individual got to keep that station license as long as they could prove that they were good stewards of a valuable public resource.
The FCC protected the public interest in inumerable ways, here are a few :
The Fairness Doctrine: This policy said that stations must dedicate some time to discussing issues that are devoted to the public interest and that stations must provide equal time for opposing viewpoints on controversial issues. The fairness doctrine was eliminated by a Reagan appointee to the FCC, Mark S. Fowler.
Technical guidelines: Rules that required stations to have a licensed chief engineer were eliminated under Reagan regulatory appointees. The station owners became responsible for technical standards or lack thereof.
Station Ownership: The number of TV stations an entity could own was expanded under Reagan. This was nothing compared to the changes that took place to TV and Radio under Bill Clinton. I like to call him Reagan to the 10th power.
Cable was deregulated in many ways under Reagan!
What we are now left with is a broadcast media that is owned by a few corporate entities. Local radio is usually either an automated music format or worse, a syndicated right wing talk show. A couple of right wing talk shows seem to pop up in every town in the country, like a fast food franchise. Do you think there's a corporate agenda involved? The sad thing is that "our" candidates did nothing to reverse this. As a matter of fact, in my opinion, Bill Clinton did more to turn our broadcast spectrum over to corporate interests than any Republican. Changes made to regulations on his watch have station licenses auctioned off to the highest bidder. I've devoted an entire installment to him in this series.
Individual votes no longer matter. Wholesale votes, the kind that are delivered by an effective television and radio advertising campaign are all important. The broadcast media has become a King and Queen maker for hire. As previously noted, he or she who has the most bucks wins! Guess where they get the bucks to run ads? This situation jeopardizes our very existence as a democracy! We can and must fix this!
Next: Part Three, Bill Clinton Saw The Thousand Points of Light!