In a recent example of Obama government run amok, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)—with five presidentially appointed commissioners—has ordered a private cable company to put a paid news channel in a particular spot on the lineup.
It seems bizarre that a federal agency is wasting resources meddling into such matters, but this is government on heavy duty steroids. Since Obama moved into the White House, the bloated government has taken over the nation’s healthcare system (ordering private citizens to purchase a product or service they may not want), banned school bake sales to control our kids’ diet and intruded into many other aspects of private life.
Heck, the administration even violated the nation’s cherished free press by secretly obtaining the work and personal phone records of reporters and editors at one of the nation’s largest news organizations. This is the sort of thing you see in communist regimes and dictatorships (like China and Cuba), a deplorable act few imagined would ever take place in the United States. Even liberals who otherwise praise Obama called the spying an “unacceptable abuse of power.”
It’s as if there is no stopping the madness of this unprecedented government intrusion into private life. So, why not tell cable companies where to place channels? Seems benign compared to some of the other stuff Big Brother has done since Obama became the nation’s commander-in-chief. The FCC, which governs mass media communication via television, radio, cable, satellite and wire, didn’t like where one major cable company placed a certain financial news outlet so it ordered the private business to move the channel.
Because of the government shutdown the FCC’s website is unavailable so the order can’t be accessed, but a news report outlines how it all went down. Cable companies often group channels with similar themes so that they are located in adjacent spots in the lineup. In this case the cable company, Comcast, isolated Bloomberg News in a neighborhood far away from other news outlets and the company claimed it was hurting business. Bloomberg hired a bunch of lobbyists to pressure the FCC, claiming discrimination because Comcast owns the business news channel CNBC, a popular competitor that has a great spot on the lineup.
The FCC caved in though Comcast asserted a First Amendment right to group channels as it wished. In explaining the importance of a neighborhood, the FCC ruling says that “viewers tend to ‘flip’ between channels using the channel up and channel down commands on their remotes, as well as by looking at nearby channels on programming guides. This phenomenon supports the Bureau’s conclusion that four news channels in any five adjacent channel positions is significant; that is, it is ‘important’ from a network’s perspective because viewers tend to stay within neighborhoods, and these neighborhoods ‘have meaning’ to viewers because they mean that the viewer does not need to wander the channel lineup in search of lone news networks.”
This channel-flipping “phenomenon” required government intervention, according to the agency. It’s for the good of mankind. We’ve seen this sort of unnecessary intrusion before by the FCC. In fact, Judicial Watch obtained documents a few years ago that show the agency colluded with a leftist organization to push government regulation of the internet. This is known as “net neutrality” and the FCC keeps pushing it even though a 2010 federal appeals court ruled the FCC had exceeded its authority in seeing to regulate the internet.
JW has also reported on an Obama FCC measure requiring more ethnic diversity and public affairs programming for broadcasters to keep their license. To “help media help democracy” the FCC should conduct a “public value test” of every commercial broadcaster before renewing their license and the process should occur every four years instead of the current eight, according to the plan. The so-called public value test features seven parts, including how well stations reflect ethnic diversity, a meaningful commitment to news and public affairs programming and political advertising disclosure.
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- On November 2, 2010, Free Press Associate Outreach Director Misty Perez Truedson sent an email to John Giusti, Chief of Staff to FCC Commissioner Michael Copps asking if Copps would write an op-ed for theAlbuquerque Journal in advance of a November 16 hearing on Internet access: “Would Commissioner Copps be interested in drafting an Op-ed in advance of the hearing? It’s a great way to get the word out and to spark conversations in advance of the event,” Truedson wrote. “We’re working on the op ed,” Giusti wrote back on November 9.
- The documents also include a series of emails sent to set up meetings between Copps and former Free Press President John Silver. “We are starting to get a good sense of how we’d like to proceed during the next three tricky months on NN [net neutrality]…” Silver wrote in the same October 8, 2010, email: “I think it may make sense for us to get together next week when I’m in town.” The documents also include a written summary of a phone call between Silver and Copps on November 28, 2010, just prior to the FCC vote in December: “Silver emphasized that a strong net neutrality rule is critical to preserving the Internet as a vibrant forum for speech, commerce, innovation and cultural expression…” the summary noted.
- One set of documents includes correspondence between FCC Special Counsel David Tannenbaum and Free Press Policy Director Ben Scott establishing lists of speakers for FCC “internet workshops.” Among the speakers proposed by Scott: “Joe Respars (ran online activism for the Obama campaign – he’s at Blue State Digital);” “Alex Nogales – National Hispanic Media Coalition;” “Jay Stanley – ACLU;” and “Clothilde de Coz [redacted] Reporters without Borders.”
- When Tannenbaum asked Scott about inviting a speaker from Color for Change in a November 17, 2010 email, Scott writes: “Yes – we know them well. I should have put James Rucker on my list. He’s very good. Up and coming civil rights leader. They are awesome.However, you should be aware that Color of Change is rather highly politicized. They are lead on the campaign to strip Glenn Beck of advertisers. And Van Jones is one of the founders. Not that these things should dissuade you from inviting them – I just wanted you to know.”(Van Jones was forced to resign from his position as Obama’s “Green Jobs czar,” in part because he had signed a petition in support of the 9/11 “Truther” movement, which believes the Bush administration masterminded the 9/11 terrorist attacks.)
Free Press has deep ties to radical leftists and socialists. Robert McChesny, former editor of the socialist magazineMonthly Review, is the co-founder and president of Free Press. Kim Gandy, the Chairman of the Free Press Board of Directors, served as the President of the National Organization for Women from 2001-2009. Craig Aaron, Free Press’s President and CEO, formerly worked as managing editor of the socialist tabloid In These Times. Free Press is financially supported by George Soros’s Open Society Institute and other hard-left groups such as the Ford Foundation and Democracy Alliance.“Net neutrality is just another Obama power grab. This is nothing less than the Obama administration’s attempt to stage a government takeover of the Internet under the guise of ‘net neutrality.’ So it should come as no surprise that Free Press, the hard left organization with socialist ties, is improperly driving the so-called net neutrality agenda from inside the Obama administration. The FCC is supposed to be an independent agency that follows the law,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “The American people should be deeply troubled by the fact that the Obama administration, on issue after issue, seems to be run by shadowy leftist organizations. Our government is supposed to be ‘of the people, by the people, and for the people’, not ‘of the Left, by the Left, and for the Left.’”