Corporate Welfare Queens Say No to Free Market
Republican Opposes Competition, Free Market
The top Republican in the House overseeing communications policy Thursday blasted a plan to allow thousands of new low-powered radio stations.
Representative Billy Tauzin of Louisiana said the Federal Communications Commission plan for so-called microradio could reduce the audience and advertising revenue of large corporate-owned stations.
The FCC "is an agency out of control that demands congressional action to straighten it out," Tauzin said at a luncheon meeting of the National Association of Broadcaster's group of broadcast station owners, who are recipients of the largest corporate welfare handouts in the nation.
Tauzin chairs the House Commerce Committee's communications subcommittee. The luncheon meeting, in a private dining room of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Arlington, Virgina, included billionaire welfare queen Lowry Mays, co-founder of Clear Channel Communications.
Tauzin argued that new Internet and satellite radio broadcasters were adding new voices to the airwaves, while current radio and television stations were being underutilized, possibly providing outlets for unheard viewpoints.
"Are the stations we have now enough? Are they utilized properly?" Tauzin asked. In some television markets, the children's program Barney was shown on public television 15 times a day, Tauzin said, contradicting his earlier claim that new stations are to be feared.
FCC chairman William Kennard urged Tauzin to talk to educational, religious, and community groups that support the microradio plan before opposing the idea.
"There is enough room for the voices of churches, schools, and neighborhood groups, as well as established radio companies," Kennard said in a statement released after Tauzin spoke.
"I'm sure that Chairman Tauzin does not want to limit Americans' choices to whom or what they can hear on the radio. I hope that when he speaks with the church and community leaders who I have spoken with, he will see the benefits of low-power FM."
Tauzin said he planned to introduce legislation to revamp the FCC's structure and powers. "I will need your help, I will need your guidance and I will need you counsel," Tauzin told the station owners, blatantly pandering for money.
Tauzin also said he would introduce a bill to repeal a provision of the 1996 Telecommunications Act that enables Internet connections for schools and libraries.
Before speaking, Tauzin sent a letter to FCC chairman William Kennard calling the microradio initiative "ill-advised."
"I request that you take no further action on this agenda," Tauzin wrote.
Last month, the FCC proposed creating hundreds or even thousands of new FM radio stations broadcasting at 1,000 watts down to as little as one watt. Commercial stations typically broadcast at 6,000 watts or more, requiring expensive equipment and massive antenna towers. The proposal was issued for public comment and could be revised or put on hold after the brief comment period.
Pro-democracy supporters of the plan said they were somewhat surprised by Tauzin's opposition.
"There's a disconnect between yesterday's rhetoric and today's," said Andrew Schwartzman, president of the Media Access Project, a nonprofit law firm backing the microradio supporters. "I would have thought that the FCC's use of the Communications Act to end protectionism and permit the entry of hundreds or thousands of new businesses into the most dynamic and growing part of our economy is something Billy Tauzin would be pushing, not stopping."
If you favor a more open, freer marketplace in radio, please tell the FCC that you support Chairman Kennard's low-power FM radio initiative. Please contact the FCC today.
Federal Communications Commission,
1919 M Street N.W., Washington DC 20554
Chairman William Kennard: 202-418-1000 firstname.lastname@example.org
Commissioner Susan Ness: email@example.com
Commissioner Harold Furchtgott-Roth: firstname.lastname@example.org
Commissioner Michael Powell: email@example.com
Commissioner Gloria Tristani: firstname.lastname@example.org
1-888-Call FCC (1-888-225-5322) Voice: toll-free
(202) 418-0200 Headquarters Voice: toll
(888) 835-5322 TTY: toll-free
(202) 418-2555 TTY: toll
(202) 418-0232 FAX
The monopolists are anti-market and anti-competition. Shame on them. Let's start to move broadcasting in the right direction by supporting Chairman Kennard's initiative.
Do you have an opinion on this? Please tell at least one person at the FCC. Get that squared away right now!
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