I worry that as we focus on Russian bots on Twitter influencing elections, we’re ignoring a bigger threat to democracy and the political process right here at home: the proposed merger of Sinclair Broadcast Group with Tribune Media Co. Imagine what could happen to politics if Sinclair becomes the dominant local news gatekeeper.
With headlines over NFL players protesting during the national anthem and President Trump’s recent remarks about the press, it may seem like next week’s “Free Speech Week” is a reactive stunt. It’s not, however, with The Media Institute creating the annual October event in 2005. Institute Executive Director Richard Kaplar acknowledges that this year’s public awareness campaign comes at a critical time.
An Indiana lawmaker has drafted a bill that would require professional journalists to be licensed by state police. Rep. Jim Lucas had the measure drawn up earlier this year and said he may file it to drive home a point about his signature issue — gun rights. “If you’re OK licensing my Second Amendment right, what’s wrong with licensing your First Amendment right?” he said.
A pair of top House Democrats are calling for Congress to hold public hearings on President Trump’s threats to revoke the broadcast licenses of media outlets he doesn’t like. Reps. Frank Pallone Jr. and Mike Doyle said today that they want all five members of the FCC to testify before Congress to disavow the president’s comments “publicly and under oath.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan told journalists Thursday, “I’m a constitutional conservative, I’m for the First Amendment.”
In a speech before Catholic bishops, the Democratic FCC commissioner says she fears the Sinclair-Tribune merger will “do harm to the time-tested principles of diversity, localism and competition.” Because ATSC 3.0 signals are incompatible with TV receivers now in use, she says, the new standard will force consumers to buy new sets. “It’s a tax on every household with a television.” NAB counters that the commissioner “misunderstands” the standard.
President Trump is doubling down on his suggestion that the federal government “challenge” the broadcast licenses of networks that report what he deems “fake news.”
Network news has become so partisan, distorted and fake that licenses must be challenged and, if appropriate, revoked. Not fair to public!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 12, 2017
Two former FCC threw cold water on President Donald Trump’s suggestion today to “challenge” the broadcast licenses of networks over news reports he considers to be “fake” and “bad for country.”