back to article What would Jesus sue? The FCC, it seems

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has picked up another foe in its ongoing love-in with Big Cable. But this time it's the Big Guy. Yes, we're talking about Jesus. The United Church of Christ has joined four other organizations in a lawsuit against the federal regulator over its efforts to tear up local media …

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It is fitting then that the UCC is involved in this case. Although it is a sad reflection of our current times that we have an effective re-run of a case that started back in 1962 with TV station owners pushing their agenda and their perspective, with little or no consideration given to the local

Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Seems certain politicians and government agencies don't believe this is true otherwise they wouldn't keep doing the same things over and over again and expect different results.

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Well ...

"Seems certain politicians and government agencies don't believe this is true otherwise they wouldn't keep doing the same things over and over again and expect different results."

That is actually one definition of insanity ...

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Re: Well ...

Insanity and Washington D.C. The terms seem interchangeable these days.

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Devil

Re: Well ...

the problem here is whether or not the FCC should be regulating CONTENT. I say they should NOT be.

When (back in the 60's, as mentioned by the article) there aren't any real competing TV news outlets available, the FCC might have a reason to regulate SOME content; that is, if there's deliberate bias in the TV station's news reporting (such as racism and "not reporting" things), a case COULD be made [and apparently WAS] that they're not "serving the public interest".

Nowadays most TV in the USA is available via cable and satellite, and the cable has a sort of "monopoly" in a given area FOR CABLE. Satellite and local channels are available WITHOUT the cable.

Now, if 72% of media coverage is a single cable company, AND they're able to provide content that people want at prices that compete with the satellites, I see no problem with that.

But, if 72% of media coverage is a single cable company, AND they're only letting people see what THEY want seen [let's say, dropping Fox News channels but keeping PMSNBC, FNN, and CNBC, NOT airing religious broadcasting, yotta yotta], AND there's NO alternative, then the FCC would have a case to REGULATE them "in the public interest".

I think the latter case is not relevant in the 21st century. Keep in mind that the "public utilities commission" of various states could ALSO regulate the cable industry to make sure this doesn't happen, since they have "monopolies" over geographical areas.

And because of THAT, you have to wonder whether or not the FCC really needs to regulate anything in this case. And I believe DE-regulation is a GOOD thing whenever it's done. So until there are ACTUAL ABUSES, let's not get our panties in a wad (or nickers in a knot) over something that has NOT happened.

If/when it does, let the lawsuits fly, and the regulations will follow. I doubt that Sinclair would want that. Instead, they'll probably "carry everything" to avoid that problem and keep customers happy. It's what Spectrum and Time Warner Cable have done. I've got 2 Fox News channels, and I _KNOW_ those guys are lefties. But they're not censoring the content I want. Because they want MY business. [I just wish it wasn't $92/month].

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otherwise they wouldn't keep doing the same things over and over again and expect different results.

If at first you don't succeed, try, try, try again. Especially if you get a massive bribe for each attempt. In that situation you don't want to succeed, otherwise you wouldn't get another bribe for trying again.

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Re: Well ...

That is actually one definition of insanity ...

Really, could we please just retire this particularly stupid cliché? It's only a "definition of insanity" for people who have no understanding of either insanity or causality. (Tip: Outcomes are usually determined by factors in addition to those under the control of the efficient cause.)

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Re: Well ...

The usual counter to "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result" is to finish the quote:

Persistence is doing the same thing over and over and actually getting a different result.

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You *know* something's wrong when a US church is the voice of reason in an argument.

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Coat

30 Pieces of Silver

What's that in today's money. Answers on a post card to

Ajit Pai. FCC, Washington DC

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Re: 30 Pieces of Silver

Apparently his annual salary is $455,000, but like with most of these high profile appointments in any country, the real money is made in the years after public office from directorships and sinecures.

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Re: 30 Pieces of Silver

"the real money is made in the years after public office from directorships and sinecures."

.. in the very companies the public office was supposed to be regulating.

It's a open invitation for corruption. You don't need the messy risk of offering a bride to a public servant. You just reach an agreement of a lovely fat salary for a "job" in a few years time, when they've finished rubber stamping your list of wants. Then all they need do is turn up for the odd board meeting, annual shareholders meeting (with accompanying dinner), otherwise do what they're told and they're a consultant director on a couple of million a year. Easy money.

Pai probably already has at least half a dozen such jobs lined up waiting for him.

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Offering a what?

@Just Enough:

-- It's a open invitation for corruption. You don't need the messy risk of offering a bride to a public servant. --

I doubt we have gone quite _that_ far, yet. But come back and take a look in a decade or so.

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Re: 30 Pieces of Silver

"Then all they need do is turn up for the odd board meeting, annual shareholders meeting "

And not forgetting all that insider knowledge of the regulator, it's processes, policies and it's senior employees.

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Chairman Pai's regulatory philosophy

"Chairman Pai’s regulatory philosophy is informed by a few simple principles..."

...

No regulatory system should indulge arbitrage; regulators should be skeptical of pleas to regulate rivals, dispense favors, or otherwise afford special treatment.

As a creature of Congress, the FCC must respect the law as set forth by the legislature.

The FCC is at its best when it proceeds on the basis of consensus; good communications policy knows no partisan affiliation."

etc

Check out the unexpurgated words of wisdom here...

https://www.fcc.gov/about/leadership/ajit-pai

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Devil

Re: Chairman Pai's regulatory philosophy

"Check out the unexpurgated words of wisdom here"

It sounds REALLY GOOD to me, actually. Now we, as citizens, must hold him accountable to those words, and make sure he does what he says he'll do. If he does, I'll be VERY happy! But criticizing him for doing what he said he'll do? I don't think that's deserved.

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Re: Chairman Pai's regulatory philosophy

But criticizing him for doing what he said he'll do? I don't think that's deserved.

That's an inane position to take. If you disagree with someone's actions, it's perfectly logical to criticize those actions, regardless of whether they were announced beforehand.

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Proxy Fight

I am not for or against the merger - but don't I see it as any worse than what we have already. If the merger goes through and they have "access" to 72% of the American market, how is that worse than ABC, NBC, and CBS each having "access" to 99.9% of the American market? Still makes them far from a monopoly.

The statistics quoted in the linked articles seem quite exaggerated. 46% of adults get their news from local TV? Maybe 20 years ago, but not now. Local media - print, radio, and television - are dying, and they are dying because people get their local news from the Internet and social media. It is just as (in)accurate in content, but it is a much more accurate reflection of the views of the local population AND they don't have to wait until the next scheduled broadcast to hear it.

It is hard and expensive for ANY new player to enter a local market - especially as the profit margins just aren't there. Local TV couldn't even survive at all if it wasn't for payments from cable and satellite providers for re-broadcast rights. González's claim that allowing the merger is "patently discriminatory" because few people of color own stations and want to enter the dying market is, quite honestly, a blatant lie. Unless the merger makes it easier for someone else based upon their race, it is not racial discrimination.

To me this appears to be more of a proxy fight. If Sinclair succeeds then they are in a better position to start their own national network to compete with ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox -- and the incumbents are fighting it by proxy.

Money talks. Just using random numbers, if 20% of Sinclair's stations are ABC affiliates and Sinclair starts a national network, then ABC would drop from 99% to 84% market penetration overnight. The advertising losses could be catastrophic. Other networks would suffer similar losses. To make up for it they would have to create national stations and feed them to the cable and satellite (which have a combined market penetration of about 77%) or expand their online streaming.

They are shaking in their boots. The national networks were completely blindsided when Fox bought up a bunch of independent stations and started a new national network, and they aren't going to willingly let it happen again. In a sense this is much worse for them than Fox - because an independent station flipping to Fox didn't cause the national networks to lose any market penetration.

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Re: Proxy Fight

ABC, NBC, Fox, and CBS are all networks, not station owners. Local stations affiliate themselves with a network to get access to the content those networks offer, but that leaves plenty of hours during the day that the local station is transmitting their own content, or content they've licensed from someone else. They get a few local ad slots during network content, and in exchange those networks try to fill those times with shows that pull in eyeballs, which increases the value of those local ad slots.

Your entire argument is predicated on a complete misunderstanding of how the system works. Sinclair operates stations that are affiliates with all the major networks. Additionally, the companies that own the major networks don't have many stations of their own. Disney operates 7 TV stations in the US. Comcast operates 26. Time Warner has just 1. 21st Century Fox has 26. And National Amusements (the holding corp of Viacom and CBS), has 17.

Sinclair owns 173 and would go to 223 with the purchase of Tribune Media. That's a lot more than the 75 or so owned by the networks. And with their history of compelled content that is broadcast nationwide, regardless of local preferences, or in some cases affiliate agreements, Sinclair is a threat to one of the last places people can get local news from local people. The same concerns happened when Clear Channel (now iHeartRadio) started buying multiple radio stations in major cities. They aggressively pushed a one-size-fits-all format, playlist, and talking points. Radio isn't a huge mover anymore and most of the concerns were about taste-making, but the same problem remains: A single voice, pretending to be otherwise, pushing an agenda or point-of-view to millions of people in an attempt to sway them.

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Re: Proxy Fight

It isn't that I misunderstand the system, but that you misunderstand my underlying point.

Fox started off as a collection of stations, then started off with a small amount of original content distributed through independent stations until it had achieved penetration into a significant percentage of the American home, it then steadily increased the amount of programming until it became a "real" network as opposed to a collection of stations.

Sinclair is building the collection of stations, stations which are currently affiliated with other networks. If they succeed then they can increase their amount of original content, and potentially start switching affiliations of those stations which they own or control at some point in the future assuming that they can overcome regulatory restrictions.

Unlike Fox, where the existing networks didn't lose penetration but lost market share, with Sinclair existing networks stand to lose both market share and penetration.

The loss of local news from local people is real, but secondary. That writing is already on the wall and has been for years. Even without Sinclair local stations are cutting back, in some cases cutting independent reporting altogether. In my local market the NBC and ABC affiliated combined their newsrooms for awhile even though they produced separate news broadcasts, as well as supplying news and weather programming to several radio stations.

Sinclair has the potential to upset the status quo - and there are too many people that stand to lose for that to go unchallenged.

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Re: Proxy Fight

A single voice, pretending to be otherwise, pushing an agenda or point-of-view to millions of people in an attempt to sway them.

So not unlike the MSM pressing their Russian naritve then....

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I Don't Own a TV,

And why is that, you may ask? Because of their crappy programming, the network shows that are pushed by ABC NBC CBS and FOX are all garbage touchy feely junk. They aim this so called programming at the 25 to 40 year olds that networks claim make up the target audience. This is the same group of individuals that walk around with their face stuck in their phone using FarceFuck and TwatTime to get the latest fake junk information that makes up their entire life for the day. And now we have to have laws governing walking down the street because these same morons can't be bother to pay attention to a cross walk sign. Yeah, I want to watch the same shit shows these dip-sticks watch (Hint:NOT).

And as far as local programming goes for OTA broadcast, don't make me laugh until I puke! If I want/need the weather I look out the window. If I need a "forecast", that's what weather.com is for, the whole worlds weather in one place. And the "Local News" by network affiliates is pure social programming for today's mindless numb-ones.

In the past winter months I have come across one network show that looks pretty good. It's Alienist produced bt TNT and I've only seen one episode to date. But, if this show goes the same route that most do it shouldn't take to long before the lords of garbage turn it into some Peyton-Place whorehouse dump site.

And don't get me going on the real "turd chaser" advertising that is pushed on OTA networks. Didn't we use to have laws about "truth in advertising" in America? Thank God I'm NOT a gun owner, I could really go for some fresh "ambulance chaser" or "payday loan shark" hunting.

Thank You for listening, and I feel much better now............

And if you believe that, I got a bridge for sale!

\End Rant

We will now return you to your regular programming...............because I have to take a good healthy dump now......Oh wait, should I have put that last statement on FaceFuck for all to see/smell? I just don't know any more!..................

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Re: I Don't Own a TV,

You assume everyone in America has access to the Internet. Many don't. Many don't even own a cell phone (or even a telephone, full stop). Meaning the ONLY free source of information for them is the local TV station (newspapers cost and the radio is iffy now).

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Anonymous Coward

Well since they elected Trump

then they should expect some mini Trumpa loompas.

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"The UCC sued the FCC again in 1969 in order to force it to adopt equal opportunity regulations."

The so-called "Fairness" doctrine, aka "Equal time." It had an effect different from the stated aim. Most stations around the country found that most people did not want liberal programming and just switched stations. But the new law required them to sacrifice an hour of profitability to the Left for every political hour that could be construed as Right.

Radio station owners mostly threw up their hands and stopped all political programming altogether. This had the effect of vastly strengthening the print and TV arms of the Media, who were more centralized in the big cities than the radio station owners scattered all over.

Thus the main effect was to strengthen the Left's hold over the News in general. Only when the Fairness Doctrine was finally overthrown years later, were local Conservatives able to get any kind of real voice nationally, as then happened with Rush Limbaugh, the great bogeyman of the Left. And still the political war over mass communication continues, Left vs Right, to this day.

It's odd, I don't recall hearing any demands lately for that Fairness Doctrine to be restored. I wonder why not...

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Because everyone with an internet connection has access to sites like el reg (and for all its faults) the BBC.

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Your not the only one....

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And what about the rest of us WITHOUT an Internet connection?

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Does beg the question Mr. 9, how you are posting on el reg without one.

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My posts are being ghost-written, and I speak for the unwashed masses who have trouble paying the electric bill and the groceries, to say nothing of any kind of data bill.

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"Radio station owners mostly threw up their hands and stopped all political programming altogether. This had the effect of vastly strengthening the print and TV arms of the Media, who were more centralized in the big cities than the radio station owners scattered all over."

But then, why weren't these big networks simply forced to provide the conservatives with their hour of airtime as well? Sounds to me like you're seeing a "balancing" when it's really shoving the weight all the way to the other end of the teeter-totter.

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