FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell Discusses Journalism, Indecency At Radio Show
September 30, 2010 at 1:14 PM (PT)
FCC Commissioner ROBERT MCDOWELL visited the NAB/RAB RADIO SHOW for a "conversation" with NAB Pres./CEO GORDON SMITH THURSDAY afternoon, reiterating his reservations about the pending Commission investigation into the state of journalism, saying that he has "a lot of concern when government starts asking whether journalism is broken and whether government has a role in fixing it." He noted that, while he was cleaning out his late mother's home, he found a book called "The Fading American Newspaper," published in 1960, demonstrating that concerns over journalism's economic future are nothing new. "Consumers have more information at their fingerprints, from more conduits, than ever before ... we're entering the Golden Age of information," MCDOWELL said.
A Supreme Court ruling [on indecency] should come by mid-2012 ... [McDowell] supports the appeal because a ruling will offer broadcasters more clarity. "This is a terrific opportunity for broadcasters to say what their standards are
On the indecency cases, SMITH said "as a father, I appreciate indecency standards," but as head of the NAB, he represents the interests of the industry, and asked whether broadcasters will be subject to the same lack of rules on the issue as other media. MCDOWELL responded that he is a parent but that he expects technology will "empower parents more in the long run." He said he expects that a Supreme Court ruling should come by mid-2012, and that he supports the appeal because a ruling will offer broadcasters more clarity. "This is a terrific opportunity for broadcasters to say what their standards are," MCDOWELL advised, adding that he expects broadcasters to cross-appeal on the issue of spectrum scarcity, the basis for content regulation, and noted that the scarcity issue is now "in question," although he declined to predict the outcome of the challenge.
Asked by SMITH about whether streaming will ultimately replace radio in cars, MCDOWELL noted that he expects more streaming in cars, which he called "a threat, and also an opportunity" for radio, and which he said gives broadcasters a greater incentive to be "hyperlocal" in their service even as their streaming coverage area covers the entire world.
On ownership regulation, MCDOWELL said that he believes that the present media landscape is the most competitive ever, and hopes that one platform (broadcasting) is not burdened with unnecessary regulation. He also responded to consultant HOLLAND COOKE's question about possible regulation of indecency on the Internet now that streaming is available in cars as noting that the Constitution would pose a problem for such regulation (MCDOWELL worked for COOKE as an intern at WTOP/WASHINGTON).