words by ethel and paul

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THE FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) grants licenses to broadcast, with few rules and requirements, and practically no regulation on editorial content. A few cases have established some editorial responsibilities based on the simple command to “serve the interest, convenience, and necessity” of the public. So far as we can tell, the laws, case law, and regulations are ignored. Censorship by the FCC is recent, and the seven dirty words hysteria may be the only control that matters any more. Total lack of oversight (except to protect space on the spectrum) seems to have started from the beginning--and guess who was there when the Radio Act of 1927 was passed (and the Communications Act of 1934)?

No current study is needed to be assured that broadcasters today--including corrupted listener-supported radio broadcasters--have little desire to serve “the public interest”. Even plain news stories are intentionally distorted. Why? Who owns the media? The same persons who own everything else that wields the power to control the information and the minds of a docile people.

News (in the 1920’s and 30’s) that electronic broadcasting was feasible went to newspapers, of course. Thus, newspapers were first in line to grab the airwaves and keep the general public uninformed about the availability of soon-to-be-monopolized airwaves.

Concentration of control of information cripples the very idea of democratic self-governance. Surely sophisticated civil libertarians do not envision some idea of a “truth”. We feel entitled to more than one viewpoint, and to news reports not censored or gutted--or killed. And we reiterate here: These requirements apply to electronic media--not to free newspapers.

THE AIRWAVES BELONG TO THE PEOPLE, we used to say. Now, The Net is threatened. Without correct information, people finally motivated by desperation, are likely--or are at least more likely--to commit irrational and even violent acts, seeking survival and a return of political freedom.

Ethel C. Hale and W. Paul Wharton