FCC Commissioner Says Diversity Chief’s Ideas for Regulating Free Speech Are ‘Troubling’

by Matt Cover
Wednesday, October 14, 2009

(CNSNews.com) – Federal Communications Commissioner Robert McDowell said Tuesday that statements about regulating freedom of speech in broadcasting made by FCC Chief Diversity Officer Mark Lloyd are “troubling.” Everyone should be concerned when federal regulators have the power to impact freedom of speech, McDowell added.

In his 2006 book “Prologue to a Farce: Communication and Democracy in America,” Lloyd wrote that public broadcasting outlets should be funded at a level “commensurate with or above those spending levels at which commercial operations are funded.”

He said that the funds do so should come from “license fees charged to commercial broadcasters”–the same “commercial broadcasters” that would have to compete with these public broadcasting outlets.

Concerns that such policies might negatively impact the First Amendment right to freedom of speech were “exaggerations,” said Lloyd, who also wrote that such protestations were evidence that the First Amendment had become “warped” to serve unnamed “global corporations.”

“It should be clear by now that my focus here is not freedom of speech or the press,” Lloyd wrote. “This freedom is all too often an exaggeration. At the very least, blind references to freedom of speech or the press serve as a distraction from the critical examination of other communications policies.”

“[T]he purpose of free speech is warped to protect global corporations and block [government] rules that would promote democratic governance,” said Lloyd.

McDowell, one of the FCC’s two Republican members, said that he found such ideas “troubling,” noting that he had been assured by FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski that Lloyd’s duties would be confined to civil rights and diversity in broadband.

“I find such ideas troubling,” McDowell told CNSNews.com. “Certainly, he has a right to express them. The chairman, as CEO of the commission, has, I guess, a right to employ him. And I’ve been told by him and the chairman that he’s working on other matters not related to those issues.”

The article continues here.

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