09 February, 2009

Time to Take Back the Airwaves

The bastards who're using 'em obviously don't deserve 'em:
President Obama will host a prime-time news conference tomorrow night, presumably to answer questions about the economy and his stimulus package. We're in a time of crisis, and it stands to reason the president wants to respond to Americans' concerns.

The networks, however, are apparently having a fit. The press conference, they say, will eat up an hour of prime time, which may cost broadcasters "more than $9 million in lost ad revenue."

One network exec whined, "Do people really want to come home after looking for a job, or after being at a job they hate, sit down to veg out in front of their favorite show -- and he's on again?" The exec went on to say that the typical American's reaction might be "nothing he's going to say is going to help me get a job, or put food on the table," adding, "He could lose a lot of goodwill doing this."

Eric Boehlert responded:

Combined, the networks control more than one hundred hours of primetime programming each week. Obviously, they can make-up a handful of lost ad slots because of Obama's primetime address, just as networks have done for decades.

And then there are the bitter, nameless TV execs quoted in the article. (Ungrateful suits whose networks have made billions using the public airwaves free of charge.) The unvarnished disdain for Obama and the contempt for public discourse expressed is just astounding.

You know what? These stupid fucks are forgetting a little feature of the licenses the FCC grants: "...broadcast licenses are to be renewed if the station meets the 'public interest, convenience, or necessity.'" I would say that having the President address the nation in a time of economic meltdown is most certainly in the public interest, and is a vital necessity to our democracy. If they don't like it, they can figure out another way to pump their puffery into American homes. We don't have to renew their fucking licenses.

If these tantrums keep up, it looks like it'll be time to roll back all that deregulation and return these little shits to the days when their ability to hold on to their licenses was dictated by how well they served the public interest. Either that, or we reconsider this "free of charge" stuff. Spoiled brats get their privileges taken away. Simple as that.


Woozle said...

Yep. I think that's the exact phrase I used somewhere -- "take back the airwaves".

The two major strategies I can see are (1) legislative and (2) financial.

They're already paranoid about #1, apparently, with GOPpers fighting ferociously against a return to the Fairness Doctrine (which, as you have observed, nobody on the "left" has actually been proposing), so that could be a tough fight. (Dunno what specific rule changes we'd be campaigning for, either, but that's certainly not a show-stopper.)

#2 might be more satisfying and/or decisive: form an international coalition with enough people to do a "money-bomb" sort of thing, except in this case we buy up sufficient stock in a major media company to have a controlling interest (sort of a collectivist hostile takeover). But we'll need something like InstaGov (back burner, aggghhh) in order for that many cats to be herdable... I mean, for that many independent-minded people to be able to actually agree on what to do next. (Plus it will undoubtedly take some major planning to get even as far as the hostile takeover.)

Must. Finish. InstaGov.

stevec said...

I hope Obama reads Krugman's piece and takes it seriously.


Paul said...

I imagine it would be quite a fight to take back the airwaves, and I think the outcome would be uncertain. Having said that, we should make the effort -- it's only going to get harder for us to succeed with each passing year.