Tuesday, June 05, 2007

How the Government Stole Our Airwaves and why the FCC Sucks.

I'm so tired of hearing the FCC whine about the status of television. It has so little regard for free speech, free expression or just plain common sense, that I must admit I revel in the recent decision by the courts that prevents the FCC from fining stations when someone accidentally lets slip a bad word on live television.

The FCC isn't necessary at all. Frequencies should be owned by individuals. The only way the government should intervene is to enforce the property rights of the owners - much like you call the sherrif when someone trespasses on your lands.

Here is a little history of the FCC:

Radio voice broadcasts began in the US in November 1920, and within two years, there were 576 licensed broadcast stations.

In 1922, Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover initiated a series of annual radio conferences, attended by major broadcasters and orchestrated by the Department of Commerce. At the first such conference, L.R. Krumm of Westinghouse complained that it was "perfectly possible to establish a so-called broadcasting station for about $500 or $1000 initial investment." The programming from these upstarts consisted of "nothing but phonograph records, and that sort of station can interfere very disastrously with such a station as we are trying to operate." And just in case his meaning wasn't clear, Krumm added, "I believe 12 good stations, certainly a maximum of 15, would supply most of the needs of the country."

Hoover began to withhold additional licenses, claiming the need to prevent interference among broadcasters. A 1923 federal court case, Hoover v. Intercity Radio, denied him the authority to withhold licenses, but allowed the Secretary to select times and wavelengths so as to minimize interference.

For the next three years, Hoover continued to ration broadcasting licenses by assigning frequency, geographic location, and time of day (in keeping with the Intercity verdict), and even by refusing (in defiance of Intercity) to process new license applicants.

Hoover's annual broadcast conferences continued and in 1925 they outlined a policy agenda in which they advocated a "public interest" standard for licensing.

So you see, the FCC was really created to protect friends of the government from having to actually compete in the market. Read the whole article - it really is insightful and explains how Hoover, when his regulatory scheme was challenged, created chaos by refusing to protect the property rights of frequency owners. Now, the FCC must scream about indecency and about the lack of shows that are beneficial to our children and our national education because, if these things were really in demand, we wouldn't need the FCC (What kind of backwards logic is that?).

Here is a great quote that sums up the attitude of the censors and bureaucrats at the FCC:
If ever there was an appropriate time for Commission action, this was it. If we can’t restrict the use of the words 'fuck' and 'shit' during prime time, HOLLYWOOD will be able to say anything they want, whenever they want."
Wow. That guy really values free speech.

Kid H.

Link via Hit & Run

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