Last week I posted two responses to a blog at the Daily Kos done by Sue Wilson. Where she stated that;
Next Tuesday, we will have a press conference to announce the results of our monitoring of WISN and WTMJ talk radio shows. I can’t give you details until then, but suffice it to say those stations think they don’t have to give comparable time when they really do.
Well they released the results I will not get into the results because they do not matter, that’s right Sue THEY DO NOT MATTER! Here is the intro;
Starting May 9th, the first day of what has become known as the Scott Walker recall campaign, members of the Media Action Center Wisconsin monitored the five “Conservative” Talk Radio programs aired in prime dayparts in the Milwaukee radio market. The shows include those hosted by Mark Belling, Vicki McKenna, and Jay Weber on WISN, the 50,000 watt radio station licensed to Clear Channel, and Charlie Sykes and Jeff Wagner on WTMJ, the 50,000 watt radio station licensed to Journal Communications. Both stations are called “News Talk” by their corporate owners. Both reach far beyond the city of their license, into most of the state of Wisconsin and beyond.
At the end she gets to the point of this whole exercise.
3) Determine whether the talk programs qualify as “bonafide news” per FCC requirements for exemptions for comparable time under Section 315(a) of the Communications Act or under the FCC’s “Quasi-Equal Opportunities” rule, known as the Zapple Doctrine.Section 315 (a) of the Communications Act imposes Equal Opportunities for candidates on broadcast stations. It says that (a) If any licensee shall permit any person who is a legally qualified candidate for any public office to use a broadcasting station, he shall afford equal opportunities to all other such candidates for that office in the use of such broadcasting station. If a program is considered “bonafide news” they are exempt from this rule.
What is a “bona fide news or news interview program”?
Obviously, news programs and news interview programs, like “Meet the Press” or “Face the Nation,” are bona fide news interview programs. But, in recent years, the FCC has liberalized the definition of a news
interview program to include programs that may be primarily entertainment, but which regularly feature
discussions with newsmakers. The Howard Stern program and that of Don Imus, have both been declared by the FCC to be bona fide news interview programs when there was an interview with a candidate,
controlled and directed by the station.
But then again only the candidate can demand equal time!
On to her main complaint about partisanship she herself called both stations “Conservative Talk radio “ and that is exactly what they are, they don’t hide their bias as a matter of fact if you click on the bio’s of the first three people that she named they proudly advertise that fact, that is why people tune in! Are they violating the law by doing this, hell no! again from a renowned FCC Attorney.
How is it that these programs can take political positions without triggering requirements that opposing candidates get equal time? Under FCC rules, unless a candidate’ recognizable voice or image is broadcast by a station, there is no right to equal opportunities. In the past, until the FCC abolished the Fairness Doctrine by declaring it to be unconstitutional, even without a candidate appearance, the station would have had an obligation to give both sides of a controversial issue of public importance, such as an election, free time to respond to on-air statements by an announcer. When the doctrine was abolished, stations were free to air pointed programs taking positions on issues, giving rise initially principally to the conservative commentators, and more recently to their more liberal counterparts such as those heard on Air America radio.
The abolition of the Fairness Doctrine also allowed broadcasters to editorialize, even endorsing candidates for political office without having to give the opponent of their favored candidate equal time, just like print media can do. Similarly, a station can take a position on a ballot issue, or on another controversial issue of public importance in their communities without having to provide time to those with opposing viewpoints – allowing stations to fully participate in their communities political life. Under the Fairness Doctrine, stations even had to give time to those with viewpoints opposed to parties who bought time on a controversial issue if the opponents could not themselves afford to buy time. The occasional discussion of reviving the Fairness Doctrine ignores these issues.
So no they are not violating the law or the FCC rules. People tune in to “Conservative Talk Radio” for exactly that reason, to get it from a Conservative viewpoint just as the Progressives tune in to the “Ed Shultz Show” which I might add are bound by the same FCC rules, yet she failed to study or show the obvious bias of that show.
Both stations are violating the FCC’s Quasi-Equal Opportunities Doctrine (Zapple Doctrine) which provides that if a radio station gives free airtime to supporters of one major political party candidate, it must provide comparable time to supporters of the other major political party candidate.
Supporters of Tom Barrett are demanding their rights in the remaining days of the Scott Walker recall election, and we have asked the FCC to intervene immediately.
Get real Sue, you can stomp your feet and hold your breath but the First Amendment still stands.
The First Amendment (Amendment I) to the United States Constitution is part of the Bill of Rights. The amendment prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press . . . which is why the “Fairness doctrine was shot down it’s un-Constitutional, period. But these little crybabies don’t want equal speech otherwise they would buy their own radio station. That is what the Zapple Doctrine was about, buying time on stations but these little crybabies want it free as can be seen from their video.
Again the Zapple Doctrine is about buying time on a station period as FCC attorney David Oxenford writes.
The Zapple case, as we wrote here and here, held that where supporters of a candidate are allowed to buy time on a station, supporters of the opposing candidate should also be allowed to buy roughly equivalent amounts of time.
Here is yet another source on the Zapple Doctrine.
C. The Zapple Doctrine
The Zapple Doctrine, named for a case brought by Nicholas Zapple, then-Chief Counsel for the Senate Communications Subcommittee, is a principle describing what has been termed a ―quasi equal opportunity‖ for third party supporters of a political candidate.61 The Commission created this doctrine to deal with potential political imbalances that could be brought about by the influence of third party supporters of candidates seeking to enhance a candidate‘s campaign but seeking to avoid triggering the equal opportunities provided to opposing candidates by Section 315.62 The Zapple Doctrine does not entitle supporters of a candidate to buy the same amount of air time as opposing third parties, but rather entitles a supporter of a candidate an opportunity to buy comparable air time.63 The anti-censorship provisions of Section 315 do not apply in this context.64 Similarly, the immunities granted to broadcasters of defamatory political speech do not appear to extend to third party advertisements aired pursuant to the Zapple Doctrine, as access to the station would not be pursuant to either Section 312 or Section 315.65
So no matter how they try to spin it, the Zapple Doctrine applies to buying time on a station. the equal access rules apply to candidates only!
This is nothing more than a feeble attempt to backdoor the unconstitutional “fairness doctrine” and silence speech they find objectionable.
I also see Sue that your site says that the FCC acknowleges this!
Surprisingly, given the general lack of response by the FCC to the general public, the federal agency instantly responded to a March 10th letter from Roger Smith, of the broadcast watchdog Sacramento Media Group. Smith complained about the gross imbalance of political viewpoints on the public airwaves in Sacramento, citing a study that Clear Channel stations in Sacramento devote 190 hours per week to Right Wing talk, while devoting not a single minute to any other viewpoint (a model perpetuated throughout 90% of the country.)
The FCC responded with the following: “…broadcast stations enjoy freedom of speech under the First Amendment, and the FCC is prohibited by statute from censoring or dictating program content. The result is that stations are free to air pretty much whatever they want (short of obscenity or indecency) – even if the material is false, misleading, or slanted