09.30.2009 0

The Consolidators: A Western by Mark Lloyd

  • On: 10/02/2009 09:36:34
  • In: Appointments
  • by Victor Morawski

    There can be little doubt about who wears the black hats in the new, myopically focused, socialistically inspired drama of the Old West by, and starring, FCC Diversity Officer Mark Lloyd.

    The villains in Lloyd’s saga are the commercial owners of radio stations, like Clear Channel Communications, who typically have “stations in multiple markets or more than three stations in a single market.” Portrayed by him as being analogous to the cattle barons of the Old West, who greedily come into town and gobble up scarce resources and leave the local population in the lurch, these corporate station owners are represented as doing the same with the limited broadcast resources throughout the land.

    And it just so happens, Lloyd’s research tells him, that the stations in the possession of these group owners “were statistically more likely to air conservative talk.” Furthermore, he claims that, in markets where there is “a clear demand and proven success of progressive talk” these dastardly bullies “still elect to stack the airwaves with one-sided broadcasting.” In short, the game plan of these feckless capitalists is to go broke.

    These are just some of the inane conclusions reached in Mr. Lloyd’s much discussed article, “The Structural Imbalance of Political Talk Radio.”

    Elsewhere, Lloyd claims to take the side of his much maligned townsfolk in a piece called “Local Media Diversity Matters.” Ostensibly defending their “Constitutional rights of free speech” he claims, “Americans’ ability to learn about and debate local, state and national issues and to monitor our representatives depends upon our exposure to news and discussion that is not controlled by a small group of mostly like-minded corporations.”

    Leaving aside that he somehow forgot to add the obligatory word “evil” before “corporations,” it seemingly never occurs to him that this “small group” may, in fact, express the free-market friendly views of the many ordinary Americans who choose to listen to their radio programming. He seems to ascribe to the Marxist illusion that views supportive of free-markets can’t be the real beliefs of ordinary people.

    Meanwhile, back in town, some of the citizens, meeting at the local courthouse, are calling on Marshall Lloyd to save the day by making the FCC reinstitute the “Fairness Doctrine.” Lloyd declines, explaining that he does not believe that repeal of the “Fairness Doctrine” in 1987 caused conservative radio to dominate the airwaves. So, simply reinstating it will not fix the “problem.”

    What he thinks really caused the consolidation of ownership in radio stations, and the explosion in numbers of conservative talk radio stations nationwide, was an action by the FCC in 2003 “that substantially relaxed a wide range of media ownership regulations,” in part by the creation of a new Diversity Index.

    Now Lloyd intends to rectify the situation by applying a newly developed, anti-free-enterprise formula for measuring media diversity in local communities. He holds that it will, “measure media diversity according to democratic values, not market values” (Exactly which democratic values are diametrically opposed to market values he doesn’t make clear.)

    And exactly what anti-democratic values will his diversity formula overcome. Well, in an article entitled “Forget the Fairness Doctrine” he observes that, even in its heyday in the 1960s, it did not address the fact that the mainstream media was “middle-class, anti-communist, Protestant, male and white.”

    His earlier research tells him, that “stations owned by women, minorities, or local owners are statistically less likely to air conservative hosts or shows.” So, he wishes to use the power of government, as embodied in his new diversity formula as a tool for wresting the licenses, and station ownership, of groups now supporting conservative talk radio so that he may redistribute them to those he considers worthy of his largesse.

    What a fine example of the Marxist principle of the redistribution of wealth from someone who praised Chavez’ Communist takeover of Venezuela as an “incredible revolution” and who has voiced the view that Chavez had it right when he shrewdly took over 200 stations owned by land-owners who represented his political opposition. Mark Lloyd has, it seems, learned well from his de facto mentor.

    And does anyone with one iota of common sense really think that Lloyd’s planned move to squelch the Left’s conservative talk radio opposition, no matter what its ostensible justification, is anything other than the same sort of stark political power grab that Chavez master-minded in Venezuela—under the guise, of course, of helping the people?

    Conservative talk radio virtually saved the entire medium of AM radio from oblivion in the 1980s. If anything, its proponents are heroes for doing so. And I don’t therefore have a very good review to write of Lloyd’s western portraying them as the villains. I also don’t view him as wearing a white hat either. It is extremely alarming that someone whose core views are so obviously antagonistic to free-market capitalism has been given such a place of prominence in the increasingly bizarre Obama Administration.

    Victor Morawski, a professor at Coppin State University, is a Liberty Features Syndicated writer.


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