The Revenge of the Fairness Doctrine and the Coming White Space


And the Hits Just Keep on Coming.

A number of publicly traded broadcast companies announced their financials over the last couple of days, and most of the numbers were not pretty at all. Still, the most disturbing number for the industry may not be the Wall Street digits, but the continued layoffs. Cox cut nearly 500 jobs and daily the numbers continue to trickle in with mounting cutbacks in radio. The vast majority of the job cuts coming from… wait for it, wait for it… Programing. Night jocks are becoming an endangered species, Programmers are doubling and tripling up and local talk hosts continue to die off. In the last few weeks this reporter has only noticed one cut from the sales department of any radio station. Content may be king, but this royal assignation is anything but bloodless.

The Feds Bless White Space.

The FCC gave the thumbs-up to opening up the White Space spectrum. White Space is a mostly unused portion of the airwaves, if you don’t count wireless microphones (Remember Spinal Tap playing at the Air Force Base. Heh). What does this mean for Radio? It may mean cities blanketed by wifi, and that would mean commuters with the option of endless mobile Internet streamed entertainment at the press of a button. Probably not the best news for terrestrial broadcasters. But it could be very good news for content producers (think, out of work radio broadcasters).

The Revenge of the Fairness Doctrine.

Could it really happen? WIth an Obama victory and the backing of now uber-powerful lawmuckers such as Charles Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, could the old dead horse be making a comeback? A return of the Fairness Doctrine would be a death blow to political talk radio as we know it. Agree or dissagree with the Fairness Doctrine, you have to admit the prospect is scary. The government instituting laws for political content on the radio. Objectively, if you take “radio” out of the equation and insert “newspaper,” you see how truly bizarre it is. Forget endorsements for politicians in print, forget op-ed… Insert “Internet” for “radio” and the opinion based blogosphere goes poof. This is just a bad, bad idea. Obama, get this one right. Show us you have some unpartisan fuzzy dice and tell Nancy and Chuck to take a long walk off a short pier on the Fairness Doctrine.