March 11, 2008

Eshoo Bill Calls For Licensing In "Public Interest"

From today's Radio Business Report:

H.R. 4882, the "Broadcast Licensing in the Public Interest Act," is in the hopper, introduced by Anna Eshoo (D-CA), with four co-sponsors. If enacted into law, the eight-year broadcast licensing term would be reduced to three, and civic affairs, news, and locally produced programming would become a blanket requirement.

Eshoo represents California's 14th District, covering the Peninsula down through Santa Cruz. The bill focuses on television, but includes specific provisions for:
  • a dedication to the civic affairs of its community;
  • a dedication to local news gathering;
  • local production of programming;
  • a commitment to providing the viewing public a presentation of the issues, candidates, and ballot items that are before voters during a local, statewide or national election, including coverage of candidate debates and forums, political conventions, and ongoing news coverage; and
  • presentation of quality educational programming for children.

How about going one step more: require radio stations to generate a minimum of eight hours of live, locally-originated programming?

I can just see the huge ownership conglomerates instantly wetting their slacks over that, and the NAB screaming bloody murder ... and getting out the checkbooks to buy off enough legislators to kill the bill. Why? Because radio isn't about programming in the public interest any more; it's about "economies of scale" and getting the most return for the least effort.