Before most people had ever seen TV, George Orwell wrote his famous novel 1984 about a totalitarian society where Big Brother watches citizens through their television.
Today, of course, most of us get our news from television. Unlike Orwell’s world, we cherish freedom of the press. No government control. Well, not exactly. While newspapers have a First Amendment right to publish as they wish, television and radio have no such rights and are regulated by the federal government. Certainly, that regulation is not supposed to force any particular content; that is, the substance of the news and other programs we watch are not to be dictated by the government. But are they being dictated?
We recently learned that YES the federal government has been in effect paying the six largest TV networks to air programs that contain the “proper message” on drugs. Some of the networks have sent their shows ahead of time to be reviewed by the White House. Now that’s frightening. Why would the networks go along? Well, the federal government is spending $185 million this year on anti-drug ads. That’s a big enough pot of money to attract a hive full of TV executives, and possibly to alter some of the shows you see. We must not violate the principle of media independence from government.
No matter how politically correct the message that government is encouraging. It’s no time for a sequel to Big Brother.
This is Common Sense.Â I’m Paul Jacob.