02 June 2009
Localism: Fairness Lite, or Fascism?
Localism, as you probably know, is the name of a tactic the State Bureaucratic Apparatus (SBA) may try to use to curtail or eliminate the national syndication of radio talk shows. If you're not familiar with localism, here is a recent article about it from Broadcasting & Cable Magazine.) Since most successful shows of this sort feature conservative commentators, localism is viewed by conservatives as a method of squelching dissent to the collectivists and Progressives (represented by the Democrats). Localism would be enforced by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
Why does the FCC have the power to grant, refuse, or revoke broadcast licenses for radio stations? I'm fairly certain the chief purpose of the FCC originally was simply to ensure that two broadcasters in one locality were not attempting to use the same frequency. Perhaps decency guidelines were also part of the original mission. With modern popular music recordings, though, that's pretty much out the window. The FCC has probably been construed to have much more power because of the "interstate commerce clause" doctrine.
There has been an attempt recently by a number of states to try to push the SBA back out of the lives of citizens, by eliminating the invocation of the insterstate commerce doctrine. Montana's "in-state firearm" law is one example. If a firearm is manufactured, sold, and used entirely within the state of Montana, this law exempts it from any federal regulation. Perhaps broadcasters can similarly use the concept of "local" to their advantage.
Radio stations, at least those not streaming on the Web, are local businesses. They serve a limited number of cities around their offices & studios; they accept advertising from other local businesses; they broadcast programming and advertising to a local market. Their product is made, sold, purchased, and consumed all within one local area. These are exactly the characteristics that localism intends to exploit for the SBA's purposes.
Wouldn't it be the pinnacle of localism for the radio stations to say, "The city or state has granted us the authority to broadcast on this frequency, simply because there are no other stations trying to use it. Our market is completely local, INTRASTATE, and therefore the FCC regulations do not apply to us."