Incite -- (v) 1: give an incentive; 2: provoke or stir up; "incite a riot"; 3: urge on; cause to act
Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Asked And Answered
Written by: Beck

Background: Sinclair Broadcasting Group plans on airing an anti-Kerry documentary on their channels shortly before the election. This is causing a lot of controversy. For one thing, it's quite likely in violation of McCain-Feingold. For another, as they are a broadcast company (and not a cable company), they're using the public air waves for partisan political purposes.

Kevin of Wizbang has an excellent round-up of stories relating to the controversy. At the end of his round-up, he remarks:
As much as I railed against the sleazy lies of "Fahrenheit 9/11," I never once suggested that it should NOT be shown. Those of you who so loudly proclaimed it as the ultimate exercise of free speech should consider how silly you look when trying to deny that right to others.

The ultimate irony is that I can now turn around the words of "Fahrenheit 9/11" defenders for use against them.

"What are you so afraid of?"
David Anderson of ISOU takes umbrage at the comparison of the movie Fahrenheit 9/11 with a TV company's behavior. In my opinion, he makes two very strong points--for one, the two situations are not comparable, and two:
In this case Sinclair is abusing their Broadcasting License by forcing affiliates to carry what amounts to an extended political commercial, this is bullshit and you know it. The airwaves belong to all of us, and NO MAN has the right to use the public airwaves to do a political hatchet job just because he owns a broadcasting company.
David then proceeds to get rather bent out of shape over the whole thing. Considering that I often like to get bent out of shape for fun, I can't say I hold it against him.

But now I'd like to share my thoughts on the whole thing.

First and foremost, the McCain-Feingold rules which restrict broadcast of certain ads at certain times from certain people based on certain tax statuses and laws is complete and utter horse shit. Sinclair Broadcasting Group may well indeed be in violation of McCain-Feingold. That's not my point. My point is that M-F is a gross abridgment of the freedom of speech and press.

My second point is that the whole notion of a TV station being restricted in content because it uses the public airwaves is a problem which emerges only because of the flaws inherent in government regulations to begin with. Inasmuch as chaos would ensue should anyone with a transmitter be allowed to broadcast anything on any frequency, the airwaves need to be portioned out. Accomplishing that was the first task of the FCC, and frankly, it's the only one they ever should have been allowed.

The broadcast spectrum should be auctioned off at regular intervals (say every 5 or 10 years). The airwaves go to the highest bidder. After that, whoever bought their slice of bandwidth owns it. It's theirs to do with as they please. If Howard Stern wants to talk about fornication, then let him. If Sinclair wants to air an anti-Kerry documentary and CBS wants to air F 9/11, then let them.

These problems only arise in the first place as a consequence of systematic stomping on both freedom of speech & the free market. The government has only itself to blame for the massive legal, ethical, and financial snarls it gets itself into, and I for one have no sympathy.

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