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Above: Lake Geneva, Switzerland. At Montreux.

Fodderize v.t. 1. To break down individual components; to make fungible; to disregard difference; to render one easily substituted for another 2. To impose sub-quality goods or services upon, with little recourse 3. To cap role choices, hinder access to resources regardless of merit, and so avoid competition 4. To manage perception by propaganda-spin techniques, while concealing dispositive facts 5. To manipulate, lure, exploit, deceive

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Sunday, February 15, 2009

Toolkit for Airwaves Recovery. Fairness Doctrine Alternatives. Reinstating Facts, Consumer Protection.

Airwaves Watching, Labeling, Regulating 
Fairness Doctrine Revisited

Airwaves as Persuasion Management Systems (the new PMS): Consumer Protection Needed

1. How to tell one airwaves bird from another.  Wing and Crest Markings.
How to Label?

Persuasion Management Systems at the news outlets govern what citizens hear. Each has an agenda, a 1 for as few facts as possible in presenting what the consumer is supposed to believe; to a 10 for full objective information.  We could refer to any "news" outlet owner whose agenda is to persuade as a Persuasion Management-Opportunity Employer (PMOE); or Persuasion Management Monopoly-Procurer (PMMP). Our interest is in imposing a labeling system so that consumers know what is in the can.

2.  What right, if any, does the public have to airwaves

The focus here is on airwaves, as the public already owns the right to regulate them says The Public Airwaves, at ://www.broadcastingcable.com/article/98059-The_Public_Airwaves_Myth.phpm/.

That view is short of saying the public owns the airwaves; and the issue notes that noone can own "airwaves" any more than anyone "owns" sunshine - not the public, not the companies. However, regulation is necessary to "orderly use," and that appears sufficient to support parallel arguments for that regulation.

3. What right do the media have to airwaves

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a.  property interest -- ownership -- somebody paid for them (did they?). My property, I do what I like with it. Is that so?
b.  property interest -- licensing
c.  protecting the public interest in full information before deciding an issue either way had been tried through the Fairness Doctrine, 1940's to 1980's.

4.  Can Labeling (on a fact-content, fact-based scale vs. opinion, inciting, persuasion) 
for news products 
serve a similar purpose to the old Fairness Doctrine.

a.  Background to the fairness doctrine

The fairness doctrine exposed people to various views, like it or not, as in seeing a nice field with different animals. The idea was, you are welcome to have your own preferences, but here are other options if you so choose.


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The Fairness Doctrine.

This effort, from 1949, required reasonable airing by networks as to all sides to an issue. This particular doctrine fell away in the 1980's with all the cable networks rising and offering a variety of views without forcing mainstream outlets to air the variety; and with them, the argument that people had lots of choices and could simply turn this off and that on. Once that happened, there were no controls over partisan content except to oppose license renewal, and the partisans could argue successfully that any unhappy consumer could buy elsewhere.

b. Do we need it back, because of abuses, propaganda exploitation, blurring what people perceive as "fact" vs persuasion tool? 

1) Yes. We need consumer protection.

See the pro side of moving back toward fairness at Common Dreams, at ://www.commondreams.org/views05/0212-03.htm/ Find concepts like "right wing water-carrying" (or left wing, as that may emerge)  instead of news; and "one-sided editorializing"; and use of airwaves as a "political megaphone".

Do those orientations (call it news but don't give it) violate any aspect of licensing.

Probably so.  You can holding a license that permits broadcasting; but that is not the same as a license to monopolize how it is used.

Go back to who has rights to the airwaves.

The right to airwaves belongs to the public, the listener; not the licensee.  That was from the Supreme Court case upholding the fairness doctrine, Red Lion Broadcasting Co. v. FCC from 1969, see it at Justia, ://supreme.justia.com/us/395/367/case.html/ originally.

That principle appears to remain valid, although largely ignored in how it is implemented has changed since the 1980's. It can be resurrected, theoretically, even if in another form than a Fairness Doctrine.  Perhaps labeling. A duty to warn. How many people think they are getting fair and balanced, but have never checked it out against other sources.  Duty to warn. We now have less full coverage, more biased coverage, and the public interest be damned in favor of property rights in owners of licenses to do as they wish. Is that the gist? See FN 1.

2) No. No right of consumers to protection against what is labeled "news" and what is included and excluded.

The right-wing Heritage Group opposes return to a fairness doctrine, see ://www.heritage.org/research/regulation/em368.cfm/

Arguments against a Fairness Doctrine include that there are plenty of other outlets for people to speak their minds, who knows what is fair, who decides, and government cannot restrict free speech, and these views often cite findings from 1987 in repealing the doctrine those decades ago.

Heritage promotes "utmost freedom" to broadcasters to ensure a "free press." See FN 2.

A Free Press, however, can include labeling -- you can make whatever flavor broccoli pudding you like, but put the rum on the label if you use it.  Is that so?

The Broadcasters also are averse to what they see as regulation serving as moral cop, content-focused, and unrelated to "orderly use" that means, to them, nobody crashing into anyone else. See The Public Airwaves site. If you fill those airwaves, goes the argument, you do as you please.  Again, the issue can be addressed by labeling and warning; no need to give all the counterarguments to your product.  Just label it on a fact-content fact-based scale, with access to the data.

5.  If we can't get the fairness doctrine back, or shouldn't what else is available

a. Eminent Domain 

Use this idea for Policy Reasons as to Airwaves, but with protections for Owners' Pink Houses on ground that a private industry would like to put up an industrial park, as in Connecticut.

Eminent domain means that the government can take private property for public use, and with various protections in place in a number of states. States vary widely on the protections they offer owners against eminent domain.  Read about its uses and abuses, scope and general purposes, supposedly, in legal terms (readable, though) at Expertlaw, ://www.expertlaw.com/library/real_estate/eminent_domain.html/
  • This eminent domain approach can have horrendous results when the original plan for the public use becomes instead a private profit-making use proposal, still perhaps benefiting the community at large just by being there, being pretty, creating jobs for outside professionals and some locals, etc. And then the private project itself fails after the eminent domainers had their way, and the space is left a wreck.
See Susette Kelo's experience in "The Little Pink House," a book on the taking of her modest Connecticut home in a working area neighborhood but with the Long Island view, so a Pfizer complex could take over, and over her objection but with an imposed "fair market value" given, see the Hartford Courant at://www.courant.com/features/booksmags/hc-littlepinkrev0201.artfeb01,0,3632403.story/.

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How to correct for that?

That is another topic: Have to look up the 43 states that changed their rules for eminent domain after the Pink House, but Connecticut did not. The issue is a balancing of interests: the state, the town in development and maximizing tax base and economic growth, vs. the only home somebody has at that time. No balancing lends itself to bright lines.

We can't even understand what the economists are saying about it.  Economists make no friends from those of us on the outside by being opaque - what on earth are they saying about license and property at ://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/abs/10.1086/589674/

Ya da Ya da.  Property rights lowering retail prices and so increasing efficiency? Whose. Which What.

English, please. Note that eminent domain, or "expropriation," has traditionally been used so that a construction purpose could be met, see comparison to nationalizaiton at the Britannica at ://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/405796/nationalization/. That need not be a barrier to use of the concept for other particular purposes in the public interest.

b. Access Rights to Airwaves, like at the beach.

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The public has a right to enjoy the beach. At least, they have that right below the high water wave mark, so they must indeed time their blankets accordingly. And, they can move laterally along the beach within that little ripply line, no matter how mega the houses just behind the moving dunes and grasses, and broken wood slat fences, and busted stairs with the little rail place on top for the hootch. See Free the Beach people at City Project at ://www.cityprojectca.org/blog/archives/97/
  • This idea of public access is a great change from when we were growing up in the summer at restricted Bay Head, NJ - with its "Improvement Association" badges to show that you and your carefully counted (and in earlier days, pale dermatologically) guests "belonged," and safari-clad elderly gents patrolled to see that no pollutants arrived from hoi polloi Point Pleasant or otherwise. See and hear about it at Audio Case Files at ://www.audiocasefiles.com/acf_cases/9494-matthews-v-bay-head-improvement-association/
So, public access rights can indeed support limiting property owners' rights. The public can go on the beach (access routes must be provided) and park their blankets below the high water mark or so, but have to leave before full high tide. Airwaves? Fine. Apply the same principles: and note that no firm time applies to the restriction. Tides come and go not at the same hour all the time - a 4PM high tide on one day may be a 5PM high tide another day - so prime time may well fall within the public access time.

6.  If a media outlet completely fails, a fairness doctrine won't save it. 

So use nationalization or other regulation, airwaves, financial institutions: enough to balance what is bound to happen in the woods anyway.

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Birds haven't a chance against the big bears. We know that from financial institutions. Do consumers have rights to news against the owners' self-interest.

How about nationalization for at least some hot air institutions?
  • This is the "zombie bank" takeover idea, see Huffington Post at Why is Obama Reluctant etc. at ://www.huffingtonpost.com/arianna-huffington/why-is-obama-reluctant-to_b_166572.html?page=4&show_comment_id=20869678#comment_20869678/ Banks.
  • The Jane and Michael Banks family of bankers, in Mary Poppins, yet. Under government control? Why not. A revered institution, or some of them, mess up and somebody else has to come in so let them.  Then decide if they can provide the services cheaper and more efficiently than the other banks.  Let people have the Public Option in Banking.
Nationalization as an alternative to bankruptcy.

Consider the Tribune Company - We have been watching this wide and long tentacled media company, newspapers, airwaves, big assets and bigger debts, now taking over our Hartford Courant with Foxification in view, probably, see ://www.chicagotribune.com/business/chi-tribune-severance-feb03,0,4244034.story/. In bankruptcy.

Is the idea of the owner to get rid of the debt in bankrupcty, sell the assets, make the shareholders rich and reduce the media available to the public for neutral info.
  • Instead of bankruptcy, give the government the first option to nationalize. Why should all those resources get sold down the river? Sam Zell? Listening?
Nationalization is fine. Has its place. No solution fits all cases, but see Nationalism Is Not A Dirty Word, in Newsweek, at ://www.newsweek.com/id/183993?from=rss/ It is a logical, reasonable, and foreseeable consequence of mismanagement.

7. Within Scope of First Amendment Rights: Free speech has never been absolute.

Maybe we need that Fairness Doctrine back.

Restrictions and intrusions for policy reasons, in the public interest, have applied from the outset. See Exploring Constitutional Conflicts overview at ://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/conlaw/timeplacemanner.htm/ Time, place, manner, all acceptable. Content? Be careful. So rely more on time, place, manner.

8. Other? We are looking. This is a work in progress.

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Overall, weigh the propaganda value of airwaves. What shows from the front may not match the vetting behind. Look at the persuasion management opportunity (PMO) that the ones with money now control. Is that what we want. Whose detriment. Whose participation is blocked. Head to education? Immunize people against propaganda like any other disease. But will people devictimize themselves? learn how and where to get information needed to vet what they hear. Some may.

Balance on the airwaves? Yes. By whatever rationale accomplishes the goal. Implicit in the vote is the provision of access to the information needed for a reasoned position, as the voter may see his or her interest.

Democracy. Voting. All about vetting. Everybody, every issue. Act today as though it will be public information tomorrow, because you may well be vetted.

None of us meets that standard, so I wouldn't even mind a guideline that said what you did before Jan. 20 (inauguration) is history; what you do after that is fodder for review. The rules changed on Jan. 20. That means tax issues remain open season, but narrow acting as a lobbyist? That was following the rules as they were. Open airwaves to the debate.

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FN 1. Left and center people have weighed in, and did so even during the campaign (Kucinich). They generally look leaner and hungrier. Note President Clinton's support of a return to a form of the fairness doctrine, at Newsmax at ://www.newsmax.com/insidecover/clinton_fairness_doctrine/2009/02/14/181986.html/ The Fodder Site Field Guide to Talk Markings isolates these crest and wing markings: unruly feathers, less make-up, more rumpled.

FN 2 Right-wing people also have weighed in. The Fodder Site Field Guide to Talk Markings isolates these crest and wing characteristics: coiffed and often glossy (unless naturally unruly) often orange, hair, usually with white roots, age-defying but not age-fooling; puffy cheeks, large ear lobes, and the tendency to interrupt with talking points and ruffle one's own feathers when the camera is on. Is that fair? You decide. Note that the more the roots are allowed to grow out on camera, the more center to left the talker becomes. See ://www.youtube.com/watch?v=34I3kg7BeF8/ for Dennis Kucinich responding to Lou Dobbs. Ya know. Ya know you are getting spin when the talking head is coiffed, dyed, age-defying but not age-fooling.

Ya know you are getting neutral information when the talking head manages to care more about the words being said than the presentation setting and personal coif appearance.. Christiana Amanpour. And now also Rachel Maddow - keeps appearance constant, not an attention-deflector.