Tags: lloyd | fcc | diversity | czar

FCC Czar Lloyd Won't Reveal Views to Media

Tuesday, 06 Oct 2009 02:19 PM

By Mike Tighe

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News reporters apparently could ask controversial FCC diversity czar Mark Lloyd about his favorite color, or his dessert of choice, or maybe even which incarnation of "Law and Order" he prefers — but don't dare ask him about his views on Federal Communication Commission policies.

A CNSNews.com reporter found that out Friday while attempting to interview Lloyd about policy suggestions he advanced in his 2006 book "Prologue to a Farce: Communication and Democracy" and in papers he wrote for the liberal Center for American Progress about changing media ownership rules and the role of public broadcasting.

The reporter also wanted to quiz Lloyd, a former network broadcaster and communications attorney, about Saul Alinksy's influence on his views. Lloyd, who stepped into a so-called czar job the Obama administration created for him on July 29, has noted that the 1960s radical was one of his inspirations.

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Conservatives fear that he will use "diversity" and localized programming as cloaks to restore a backdoor variation on the Fairness Doctrine to muzzle conservative talk radio.

When the CNSNews.com reporter attempted to interview Lloyd at a public forum the FCC was sponsoring Friday, he was told the agency does not allow any commission staffers to be interviewed about policy.

FCC Communications Director David Fiske told CNSNews.com that, like any federal agencies, the FCC does not allow staffers to be interviewed about themselves or their views because doing so might compromise their ability to make policy recommendations.

“It’s not that staff don’t do interviews, [but] they aren’t personages who do interviews about themselves and their input,” Fiske said.

FCC commissioners make the policies, so they are the ones to interview about what sources and ideas are influencing the commission’s decisions, Fiske said.

The no-interview policy effectively shields Lloyd, who also has drawn fire for praising Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez's "democratic revolution," from explaining his own views. Coincidentally, Chavez has cracked down on media outlets that exercise their independence.

Those views surfaced in Lloyd's writings, such as a July 2007 essay titled "Forget the Fairness Doctrine," in which he wrote about "the failure of the supposed 'free market' regulation of the U.S. radio industry to address the public-interest needs of listeners. Our analysis revealed that conservative talk radio dominates the airwaves of our country — to the detriment of informed public discourse and the First Amendment."

He wrote: "We trace the rise and influence of Rush and other conservative radio hosts to relaxed ownership rules and other pro-big business regulation that destroyed localism," adding, "We call for ownership rules that we think will create greater local diversity of programming, news, and commentary. And we call for more localism by putting teeth into the licensing rules. But we do not call for a return to the Fairness Doctrine."

Lloyd's other views, which Newsmax has chronicled previously, include:

  • In “Prologue to a Farce,” Lloyd wrote that private media organizations are destroying American democracy because they do not inform the public equally and adequately. "The ongoing American experiment in democracy is failing," he writes. "And it is failing because we have allowed our public sphere to be dominated by the interest [James] Madison called merchants."

  • In a 2007 article written for the Center for American Progress titled “Media Maneuvers: Why the Rush to Waive Cross-Ownership Bans,” Lloyd urged progressives to adopt the anti-media tactics FDR adopted to quell criticism of his Depression-era, New Deal policies.

  • In June 2007, Lloyd co-authored a Center for American Progress report on "The Structural Imbalance of Political Talk Radio" that reported 91 percent of the talk radio programming on 257 stations owned by the five largest companies was conservative, compared with 9 percent that was progressive. The report stated: "The disparities between conservative and progressive programming reflect the absence of localism in American radio markets. This shortfall results from the consolidation of ownership in radio stations and the corresponding dominance of syndicated programming operating in economies of scale that do not match the local needs of all communities."

  • In 1998, in an essay he wrote for the Leadership Conference of Civil Rights, Lloyd alleged that former President Reagan's policies hurt the cause of civil rights, stating that "great progress made by the civil rights communities in the communications policy arena has been rolled back." He blamed the "Reagan-dominated FCC."

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