Had it Right the First Time


Was a time when Michael Powell used to say sensible things about how the FCC's policing of broadcast speech ran up against the First Amendment. His election-year about-face was noted recently in the Congressional testimony of lawyer Robert Corn-Revere:

With respect to regulating broadcast content, Chairman Powell has criticized as a "willful denial of reality" the Commission's failure to reexamine the "demonstrably faulty premises for broadcast regulation," including the claim "that broadcasting is uniquely intrusive as a basis for restricting speech." Of this rationale he has said, "[t]he TV set attached to rabbit ears is no more an intruder into the home than cable, DBS, or newspapers for that matter. Most Americans are willing to bring TVs into their living rooms with no illusion as to what they will get when they turn them on." The Chairman has explained that "[t]echnology has evaporated any meaningful distinctions among distribution [media], making it unsustainable for the courts to segregate broadcasting from other [media] for First Amendment purposes. It is just fantastic to maintain that the First Amendment changes as you click through the channels on your television set."

Via Jeff Jarvis.