News

Eshoo introduces bill on broadcaster obligations

A bill that would increase public interest obligations of broadcasters was introduced in Congress Wednesday by Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto.

"I've become increasingly concerned about the effect of media ownership on our democracy," Eshoo said. "The corporatization of our media and the massive consolidation of media outlets are the root cause of the erosion of public discourse in this country."

Eshoo said that television stations devote less than one half of 1 percent of total programming time to local public affairs and four of 10 commercial television stations surveyed in 2003 aired no local public affairs programs.

Eshoo's bill was introduced on the same day that the Federal Communications Commission relaxed its rules against cross-ownership that ban a company from owning a radio or television station in the same market in which it owns a newspaper.

"I believe relaxed ownership rules and rubber-stamped postcard license renewals have contributed to the degradation of television and radio programming," Eshoo said.

The bill would require broadcasters seeking license renewal to demonstrate that they have dedicated efforts to civic affairs and local news. The bill would also require broadcasters air locally produced programming and make a commitment to public presentation of the views of candidates and issues related to local, statewide or national elections.

The bill would require broadcasters to provide educational programming for children. Finally, the bill would reduce the term of a broadcast license from eight years until renewal to three years to provide more oversight.

— Don Kazak

Comments

 +   Like this comment
Posted by It's-Time-For-IP-TV
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 20, 2007 at 10:26 am

> The bill would require broadcasters to provide educational
> programming for children. Finally, the bill would reduce the
> term of a broadcast license from eight years until renewal to
> three years to provide more oversight.

As usual, the poorly educated Anna Eshoo is off-the-mark and out-of-tune with the reality.

The emergence of IP-TV completely changes the calculus of local broadcasting. In the past, both Broadcast and Cable TV broadcasters had to deal with a limited number of "time slots" for programming. So, lots of "local" programming were ignored because there simply was little interest on the part of the public to pay for boring/disinteresting and content-limited "local programming"--such as city council and school board meetings. With IP-TV, there are no "time slots"--everything is now on-demand--driven by the users of each of these video services.

Any/every city that wants to web-cast its meetings can do so with inexpensive site licenses for server-end software, and the cost of server storage space to hold video/audio streams. The local government agencies can do all of this without having to deal with local media centers, broadcasters or cable people. They simply decide to web-cast, and then go do it.

The mainstream broadcasters are now web-casting many of the prime-time shows. BBC is supposed to be offering world-wide access to their in-Britain programming in 2007 (or 2008), which will likely put a crimp in those local public stations that have previously offered BBC programming in the US via broadcast and cable.

It is probably premature to suggest that broadcast TV is a "thing of the past", but Eshoo's bill certainly does nothing to help local broadcasters, while ignoring the fact that IP-TV reduces the need for the for-profit broadcasters to have to subsidize the various programming that Eshoo seems to be championing.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mike
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 20, 2007 at 10:35 am

There is still a paucity of public programming. Also, 10's of millions of people still get a lot of their entertainment and information from TV. That will continue for quite some time.

Eshoo's bill in right on!

It's about time we had better public programming services from the broadcasters, who have bombarded our culture with garbage, and do all they can to keep the media from being what it naturally wants to be - i.e. "free".


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 20, 2007 at 12:00 pm

Listen to the PSA announcements now - many of them are pseudo science and PC crap. This bill is the Hush Rush Act of 2007, and don't mistake it for anything else. Remarkable how the liberal love od free speach is so narrowly interpreted when they have the power. Hey Anna, don't taze me, Sis!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by GMC
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 20, 2007 at 1:10 pm

How ironic all those lib bumper stickers about "remember civil liberties?" seem now. Have you libs read the constitution? How is the government dictating programming anything but prima facie abridgment of the freedom of the press?
Maybe we should examine bookstores next. I was in Books Inc. at Stanford Mall recently - it seems that most of the current events books have a decidedly liberal slant. Should they be forced to carry more anti-Hillary books? They sure have enough anti-Bush books.
Whether its the conservatives attacking Howard Stern or libs attacking Sean Hannity, it's wrong and contrary to the principles our country was built on.
These phony-soy-baloney politicians on both sides need to be replaced with people that actually respect freedom and democracy, and accept that there is and always will be a diversity of viewpoints in an ever-expanding media marketplace.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by perspective
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 20, 2007 at 5:43 pm

The Stalinist maneuvers are out again.

Come on people, don't you want to CHOOSE which channel you watch and which station you listen to?

I don't need some nanny-state deciding what speech gets knocked out, and my taxes going to programs I don't listen to or support. I will support what I want to.

This is, indeed, a fear of freedom of speech.

Won't pass. Eshoo is on the side of tyranny......again.

No great shock this is coming up as an election looms..free speech is what the LEFT fears the most, because reason and analysis trump emotional propoganda every time.


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