Beware of FCC agents bearing gifts. There might be a hidden price tag. The Federal Communications Commission is conducting a test of free speech. This is only a test.
For the first time in over three decades, TV and radio broadcasters are going to be allowed to either criticize or endorse political candidates without being forced to provide so-called “equal time” to opponents. Geez, it might be nice to know the editorial opinions behind the news we get. But for 60 days only, though. Then the 5 dictators on the FCC board will collect a lot of report cards and see how we all did with our freedom. And they will decide whether we should be allowed to have a little more free speech or maybe a little less. Can’t just let us exercise our First Amendment rights and be done with. No, that would be too easy.
During the 60 days the FCC wants broadcasters to fill out all kinds of forms documenting the effects of the gag removal. Free speakers will have to keep a record of how many complaints they received during the 60-day period, how much editorializing they did, etc., etc. Broadcasters worry that they will be under pressure to cater to FCC expectations during the 60-day period if they hope to have the ban lifted permanently. And what kind of freedom to speak is that? Let’s hope that all ends well for our right to free speech. Let’s hope we pass the test. But this is not the kind of exam that should ever be given in a free society.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.