Tags: Fairness | Doctrine | FCC

Grassley: FCC Diversity Chief May Stifle Talk Radio

Tuesday, 18 Aug 2009 05:26 PM

By Rick Pedraza

Sen. Charles Grassley is worried that Obama administration’s new federal communications "diversity" director may try to regulate talk radio with a "backdoor" method akin to the Fairness Doctrine.

The Iowa Republican expressed his concerns because of a paper in which Mark Lloyd, the diversity director, alleged a “structural imbalance” in political talk radio and suggested increasing government involvement to regulate it. Lloyd co-authored the paper for the liberal Center for American Progress.

Grassley sent a letter Friday to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski voicing strong disagreement with the idea that government needs to regulate talk radio and arguing that a return to the Fairness Doctrine would end the diversity of views on the airwaves.

“Taken together, these statements represent a view that the FCC needs to expand its regulatory arm further into the commercial radio market,” Grassley wrote. “I am concerned that, despite his statements that the Fairness Doctrine is unnecessary, Mr. Lloyd supports a backdoor method of furthering the goals of the Fairness Doctrine by other means.

“Simply put, I strongly disagree with Mr. Lloyd,” Grassley wrote about the paper’s conclusion that the gap between conservative and progressive talk radio is the result of multiple structural problems in the U.S. regulatory system.

“I do not believe that more regulation, more taxes or fines, or increased government intervention in the commercial radio market will serve the public interest or further the goals of diversifying the marketplace,” Grassley wrote.

Grassley told CNSNews.com that his letter to Genachowski aimed to hold him to his word during Senate confirmation hearings when he rejected the idea that the FCC should police political speech. During the hearings, Genachowski said he didn’t think the FCC “should be involved in censorship of content based on political speech or opinion."

“I took the new chairman at his word when he told me prior to his Senate confirmation that he wouldn’t support any effort to reinstitute the Fairness Doctrine,” Grassley told CNSNews. “Mr. Lloyd’s writings imply that the FCC can use power it already has to implement the goals of the Fairness Doctrine without actually reinstating the Fairness Doctrine.

“These writings, and the appointment of Mr. Lloyd to chief diversity officer at the FCC could contradict the assurance I got from Chairman Genachowski. I expect Chairman Genachowski to keep his word and affirmatively state on the record that he’ll oppose the Fairness Doctrine, or any other regulatory efforts that could achieve the goals of the Fairness Doctrine.”

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