Buh Bye Michael Powell
FCC Chairman Michael Powell has announced his resignation; he will be leaving this March. If you’ve disagreed with Powell’s decisions these past 4 years, don’t be too relieved at his departure until you find out who his replacement will be. Remember, everyone who heaved a sigh of relief at John Ashcroft’s departure ended up gasping in horror when they found out that Alberto “Torquemada” Gonzales would be his replacement.
Powell generated lots of controversy for his absolutely schizophrenic views on regulation: a hands-off free-market approach, allowing several (or even fewer) megacorporate monoliths to control most the broadcasting industry; and a gigantic bleeding-heart nanny state for people who wanted offensive TV programs taken off the air.
When Powell’s free-market personality was dominant, he eased regulations, making it even easier for more newspapers and TV/radio stations to be owned by fewer corporations. These changes were opposed by a huge coalition of strange bedfellows: liberals, conservatives, religious groups and the National Rifle Association, among others.
Everyone complains about media bias – left or right – but when too many newspapers, magazines and broadcasting stations are all owned by the same company, their only “bias” is toward the bottom line. Anything controversial that might decrease the sale of newspapers or the number of TV viewers – forget it. This has turned the press from a watchdog to a lapdog.
This also makes censorship much easier. Remember when the Dixie Chicks made a joke about President Bush? One broadcasting executive threw a tantrum, and poof! The Dixie Chicks were suddenly banned from hundreds of radio stations.
When Powell’s government-meddling nanny-state personality was dominant, he wanted the government to babysit for everybody who might be offended by a TV show. Anyone who complained that “there’s an offensive TV program on and I can’t reach the remote. Heelllllppp!!!” was to be coddled and wet-nursed by the freemarket-spouting FCC.