Alito Beginning To Sound Like Genachowski

What the [fleeting expletive] is Supreme Court Associate Justice Samuel Alito thinking? Midway through the argument last Tuesday on the constitutionality of the FCC’s broadcast indecency restrictions, Alito says: “Well, broadcast TV is living on borrowed time. It is not going to be long before it goes the way of vinyl records and eight-track tapes.”

“I’m sure my client is not thrilled to have you say that,” responds Carter Phillips, the attorney representing Fox who was trying to make the case that broadcasting should not be singled out among the media for more restrictive speech regulation.

Alito presses ahead. “I’m sure your clients will continue to make billions of dollars on their programs which are transmitted by cable and by satellite and by Internet. But to the extent they are making money from people who are using rabbit ears, that is disappearing…. So why not let this die a natural death?”

The argument quickly veers into other territory, and Phillips never really responds to Alito’s comments. (Why would he? They were off the wall.)

So I will:

“Sam, you don’t know what you are talking about. Broadcasting isn’t dying. In fact, it continues to be the most important news medium in the land and its entertainment programming is, by far, the most watched. You probably don’t realized that because you’re hooked on Jersey Shore and Hardcore Pawn.

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“If I came over to your house the next time a big storm is threatening Washington, I’ll bet you and Martha-Ann would be tuned to Fox’s Channel 5. That’s a broadcast channel, and it would be reporting every twist and turn of that storm.

“All we are asking here is that you don’t discriminate against broadcasting so that it can continue to compete with cable on equal terms and continue to thrive. Got it.”


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