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FCC Monitors Your News, Komrade

obama-brownshirts-tpc Image from the agitprop stock at the brilliant People's Cube.

On Thursday, Glenn Beck declared:

“Ask yourself the question: Why isn’t anyone talking about this? This is one of the most disturbing stories I have ever heard in my entire broadcast career,” Glenn said on radio this morning. “The FCC has now decided that they need to monitor the newsrooms. They need to figure out how story selection works in the newsroom.”

The renegade broadcaster's vitriol comes in response to a Fox News story (covered by PJ Tatler's Bryan Preston) on the Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs (CIN) proposed by the FCC last May that was supposed to commence this week in Columbia, South Carolina:

 The FCC explained that it wanted information from television and radio broadcasters "to ascertain the process by which stories are selected, station priorities (for content production quality, and populations served), perceived station bias, perceived percent of news dedicated to each of the eight CIN's and perceived responsiveness to underserved populations."

The FCC has identified eight CINs, or key topics that the government believes should be covered.

According to the actual FCC report, the eight CINs are:

1. emergencies and risks, both immediate and long term;

2. health and welfare, including specifically local health information as well as group

specific health information where it exists;

3. education, including the quality of local schools and choices available to parents;

4. transportation, including available alternatives, costs, and schedules;

5. economic opportunities, including job information, job training, and small business

assistance;

6. the environment, including air and water quality and access to recreation;

7. civic information, including the availability of civic institutions and opportunities to

associate with others;

8. political information, including information about candidates at all relevant levels of local governance, and about relevant public policy initiatives affecting communities and neighborhoods.

It is a story so bizarrely ridden with bureaucratic newspeak that it reads like a spoof from the pages of The People's Cube. If only we were so lucky.

FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai, who first raised awareness of the CINs in the Wall Street Journal, warned:

The FCC says the study is merely an objective fact-finding mission. The results will inform a report that the FCC must submit to Congress every three years on eliminating barriers to entry for entrepreneurs and small businesses in the communications industry.

This claim is peculiar. How can the news judgments made by editors and station managers impede small businesses from entering the broadcast industry? And why does the CIN study include newspapers when the FCC has no authority to regulate print media?

Consider how news reporting on these needs might be geared by the FCC based on their definitions of "station bias" and "underserved populations." America's free press, already ranked at an abysmal 46 by Reporters Without Borders, would sink even further down the drain. The organization notes:

No fewer that eight individuals have been charged under the Espionage Act since Obama became president, compared with three during Bush’s two terms. While 2012 was in part the year of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, 2013 will be remember for the National Security Agency computer specialist Edward Snowden, who exposed the mass surveillance methods developed by the US intelligence agencies.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has already declared his jealousy of Obama's power when it comes to NSA surveillance. The ex-KGB officer has yet to publicly drool over the prospects of the FCC study. For its part, the FCC has yet to determine whether or not an ex-Soviet intelligence officer's jealousy of the president of the free world is a story that constitutes bias.

Disturbingly enough, it is a story that is relevant to an increasingly underserved population: the American public.