Media Research Center President L. Brent Bozell is calling on all nominees to the Federal Communications Commission to disavow a recently passed amendment giving the government “frightening” new control over talk radio.
Last week the Senate passed legislation that prohibits the FCC from reinstating the so-called Fairness Doctrine, which requires broadcasters using the public airwaves to give equal time to opposing political views.
But it also passed an amendment by Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., calling on the FCC to “encourage and promote diversity in communication media ownership and to ensure that broadcast station licenses are used in the public interest.”
Sen. James Inhofe, an Oklahoma Republican, on Wednesday called the Durbin amendment an attempt to make an “end run” around the Senate action outlawing the Fairness Doctrine and “a new means of censorship on the airways.”
Also on Wednesday, The Media Research Center issued a statement saying the Durbin amendment “creates broad new free speech-suppression regulatory powers for the FCC.”
The amendment “potentially allows for the FCC to prematurely rescind talk radio station licenses and creates many new regulatory avenues by which the FCC can silence talk radio,” according to the MRC.
President Barack Obama on Tuesday announced his choice for FCC chairman, Julius Genachowski, who the MRC observes has been “a long-time proponent of media-ownership rules that encourage more diversity,” a key tenet of Durbin’s amendment.
Bozell said: “The time has come for all of President Obama’s nominees, and Obama himself, to publicly vow to protect conservative and Christian talk radio from ALL forms of government censorship. So far their silence has been deafening. Should Mr. Genachowski and company not vow to protect the First Amendment freedoms of talk radio, the Senate should refuse to confirm them.
“All the pieces for the silencing of conservative and Christian talk radio are being put into place. Aspects of the Durbin amendment create the impression of a new FCC censor power to pull station licenses mid-term — and many new ways to regulate talk radio out of existence.”
Bozell concludes: “These are frightening new governmental censorship powers, and Obama’s FCC nominees should pledge not to use them to shut down talk radio.”
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