The Jury Talks Back


Use of the Airwaves

Filed under: Uncategorized — Fritz @ 8:56 am

From the Los Angeles Times (Monday, March 9, 2009):

Re “Talk radio in the balance,” Opinion, March 3

Brian C. Anderson fails to mention three basic facts.  First, the airwaves are owned by the public and not the broadcasters.  Second, radio stations have a no-fee lease from our government that allows exclusive use of a particular broadcast spectrum.  And finally, in return for this exclusive free use of public property, broadcasters are required to serve the public interest.  Talk-radio hosts who mislead, take stuff out of context, ignore significant facts and just plain lie are not serving the public interest.  This describes Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, among others.

The Fairness Doctrine may be problematic, as Anderson suggests, but our nation is ill-served when the public airwaves are used to confuse and mislead.

Bill Stanton

Garden Grove

First, I have a sneaking suspicion that one man’s “hosts who mislead” is another man’s ideological lodestar.  Second, I’ll bite: the government should sell off these parts of the spectrum, getting out of the business of deciding what does and what does not serve the public interest altogether.


  1. The DNC are ginning up their stooges to write letters to the Editor. Somebody check Mr. Stanton’s position IN the Democrat party of Orange County. Many times the party flunkies will not admit they are officers of the party.

    Comment by PCD — 3/9/2009 @ 9:57 am

  2. “confuse and mislead”

    That’s always the way, isn’t it. We’re not stopping SPEECH, just preventing lies and harmful rumors….

    Next up “wreckers and hoarders”

    Comment by Kevin Murphy — 3/9/2009 @ 10:38 am

  3. Mr. Stanton is entitled to his own opinion but, as the wit once said, not to his own facts.

    He says that talk show hosts who mislead, take stuff out of context, ignore significant facts and just plain lie are not serving the public interest. I must agree with that statement but I would add that posters who mislead, take stuff out of context, ignore significant facts and just plain lie are also not serving the public interest.

    I would pay more attention to posters such as Mr. Stanton if they would spice their opinions with some examples.

    In Rush’s case, with over twenty years of doing five three hour shows a week, it should be easy, if he has misled his listeners, taken things out of context, ignored significant facts and just plain lied to his audience, to produce some evidence.

    Comment by Longwalker — 3/9/2009 @ 10:43 am

  4. I don’t understand how the Fairness Doctrine can work.

    1. How do you decide which subjects are controversial, and thus need “balance”?

    2. How do you decide the number of viewpoints for a particular issue? (Many issues have more than two viewpoints.)

    3. If you’re going to require a Democrat perspective for every Republican perspective, are you also going to require a Libertarian view? Green view? Other political parties equal time? If not, how is it fair?

    The application of the Fairness Doctrine seems to me to be completely impractical.

    Comment by aunursa — 3/9/2009 @ 10:59 am

  5. aunursa,

    Easy – they will appoint a Fairness Czar!

    Comment by carlitos — 3/9/2009 @ 11:30 am

  6. No-fee? FREE? This person has no clue.

    Actual FCC schedule; Broadcast TV starts on page 26 for the primary license. Don’t forget that all of those trucks, microwave links, … also need licenses. If it transmits, it needs a license (there are rare exceptions for some private uses, and waivers for some politically acceptable users; commercial users should not bother to apply, primarily schools, churches, and universities.) I don’t know if this is the most recent schedule; there are lawyers who specialize in coping with FCC rules & regs, don’t forget to pay them, too.

    Note: Paying the FCC

    FCC Fees
    The U.S. Treasury now rejects the processing of credit card transactions greater than $99,999.99. This limit includes multiple transactions on the same credit card totaling more than this limit in a single day.

    And for lots of things those just are not allowed (but they do provide instructions for electronic wire transfer of funds.)

    Comment by htom — 3/9/2009 @ 12:32 pm

  7. The nation’s highways are publicly-owned too. Maybe I should not be driving on them unless I have both a copy of the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times with me? The FCC’s cooption of jurisdiction over content does not only violate the First Amendment, it is based on a nonsensical premise.

    Comment by nk — 3/10/2009 @ 7:12 am

  8. First, the airwaves are owned by the public and not the broadcasters.

    When and how did we acquire them? Did we build them, like we did the highways?

    Comment by Pablo — 3/12/2009 @ 4:36 am

  9. Pablo — the International Telecommunications Union, the successor to the International Telegraph Union (started in 1880?); the USA became involved before the establishment of the FCC, but it’s generally accepted that the legal authority begins (here) with the Radio Act of 1927 and the Communications Act of 1934. There’s a treaty, too, but I don’t remember its name well enough to find it.

    Comment by htom — 3/12/2009 @ 9:27 am

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