FCC's Robert McDowell Talks Ownership Rules In VA Speech
June 28, 2010 at 4:25 AM (PT)
Addressing the Commission's current review of its ownership rules, FCC Commissioner ROBERT MCDOWELL told the VIRGINIA ASSOCIATION OF BROADCASTERS' 73rd annual SUMMER convention in VIRGINIA BEACH that while he voted to issue the Notice of Inquiry in the matter, he finds "some of its premises and questions disquieting," including the idea that government might monitor "civic engagement" to measure a station's fulfillment of the FCC's localism goal. "The possibility of the government monitoring political speech -- core protected speech under the First Amendment -- should send shivers down the spine of anyone who cherishes liberty. But, obviously, the Commission employs at least a few people who are interested in this idea...."
MCDOWELL also rejected the NOI's suggestion of counting the number of journalists employed at broadcast stations, saying, "In a free society, the government has no business attempting to influence the Fourth Estate watchdogs of state action, whether the ostensible impetus is good or bad. The practice of journalism, a constitutionally recognized freedom, is better off without Big Government offering the 'helping hand' of state intervention."
MCDOWELL asserted that "modernizing FCC regulations may be meaningless because traditional media owners now prefer to spend their time and resources on new, unregulated outlets rather than acquire any more of the heavily regulated ones. In short, a market that once experienced media consolidation has now become one of media divestiture. Yet even as this trend continues, the Commission has no excuse for continuing to cling to inaction. We have a statutory obligation to eliminate unnecessary mandates and bring our regulations into line with the modern marketplace."