Will Obama Use ‘Localism’ to Crush Rush?
Barack Obama has said he won’t seek to reinstate the so-called Fairness Doctrine requiring broadcasters over the public airwaves to give equal time to opposing political views.
But he could instead mount a "far more dangerous attack" on free speech and conservative talk radio, a media watchdog discloses.
The tactic: Using a vague rule already on the books to threaten any radio station that airs conservative programs with the loss of it broadcast license, according to Jim Boulet Jr., founder of the Web site KeepRushontheAir.com.
The Federal Communication Commission rule in question is called “localism,” and it requires radio and TV stations to serve the interests of their local community — by covering local issues and providing an outlet for local voices — as a condition of keeping their licenses.
Writing on the American Thinker Web site, Boulet observes: “Obama needs only three votes from the five-member FCC to define localism in such a way that no radio station would dare air any syndicated conservative programming,” such as Rush Limbaugh’s top-rated show.
In September 2007, Obama submitted a statement supporting localism to an FCC hearing.
The head of his transition team is John Podesta, whose organization, the Center for American Progress, issued a report last year complaining that there is too much conservative talk on the radio because of “the absence of localism in American radio markets” and urging the FCC to “ensure greater local accountability over radio licensing.”
Podesta’s choice as head of the FCC’s transition team is Henry Rivera, whose law firm is also the former home of current FCC Chairman Kevin Martin — himself an advocate of more stringent localism requirements, Boulet points out.
He warns that a single complaint from anyone can hinder a station’s license renewal process or even lead to the loss of the license.
To protect free speech and conservative talk radio, “station owners need to become engaged in the localism issue and then take the time to educate their own congressman and senators about the dangers of the FCC’s proposals,” Boulet urges. “If broadcasters get involved, it just may be possible to block implementation of any localism rules during the few months remaining of the Bush administration. “
This delay is critical, since once it is the Obama administration leading the fight for rules which would shut down conservative talk radio, Republican congressmen and senators will find it easier to fight back.”
Editor's Note: President Obama's First Target: Close Down Rush, Hannity, O'Reilly, Savage