FCC intrusion raises questions about legality, media bias

FCC budget fees

Snip: FCC budget showing increase in revenue derived from increases in fees.

Update, 2/23/14: The FCC will revamp the study protocol. See: FCC backs off newsroom study.

Original post 2/21/14

The Federal Communications Commission is in the news of late after advocates of free speech and the 1st amendment expressed outrage over what amounted to plans for the feds to go snooping in newsrooms under the guise of determining what a community’s “critical information needs” might be.

Is it legal for the FCC to do this? What does the lack of response from media say about bias?

The Washington Post said the backlash occurred “particularly among conservatives.” Reread that sentence and ask yourself why all media don’t safeguard the 1st amendment. Then remind yourself this is WaPo, a newspaper perceived by people like me as being firmly aligned with socialist progressive ideals.



Photo of radio: DayontheDay.com

Ask most Americans what the FCC is supposed to do, and it’s likely answers would be confused at best. By necessity, FCC responsibilities and authorities have evolved alongside technology. The official government page describes what the commission is supposed to do:

“The Federal Communications Commission regulates interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite and cable in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories. An independent U.S. government agency overseen by Congress, the commission is the United States’ primary authority for communications law, regulation and technological innovation.”

That’s a daunting task, so you’d think the commission would focus on priorities. But the political “diversity” agenda has filtered into the agency’s perspective, and it’s likely this social engineering initiative may catch stations unaware.


FCC budget

Snip from FCC 2012 budget reflecting social engineering initiative.

Consumers fund the FCC, and over time, fees have risen to accommodate expansion of authorities attributable not only to technology, which is acceptable, but also to political ideology which is not acceptable. This is an agency we should watch carefully. As a matter of fact, any federal agency that has even an indirect relationship with the 1st amendment should be carefully watched as the news-snoop agenda indicated.

WaPo reported that the FCC plans to revise questions they will ask when they visit media outlets to determine whether “critical information needs” for communities are being met. Originally, as I reported on Wednesday, questions were targeted directly at content, potentially asking reporters whether stories they deemed important had been nixed by the media organization’s leadership.

FCC already has the benefit of a study, by the way, that showed no problems when it came to media ownership by minorities or women.


Furthermore, consumers already pay a number of fees related to federal agencies. These fees are backdoor taxes with unlimited potential. Wasting money on media snooping is not acceptable.

As the 2012 budget estimate indicated, $1 million dollars was placed in the budget for social engineering purposes.

As many media have also noted, a powerful Democrat congressman’s daughter sits on the FCC board. Is that a conflict of interest, especially since the congressman is known for partisanship?


In a story no establishment media have taken note of, a Chicago station is being fined $44,000 for airing advertising in the guise of news. The curious thing about the fine is that the faux news was linked to Big Labor—“The Workers Independent News.”

If you look at the TWIN website, you’ll see negative stories about Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican. You’ll also see positive coverage of Obamacare/PPACA and another story about how the Democrats’ national party chair Debbie W. Schultz “pledges to work with Wisconsin Dems to defeat Scott Walker.” The Workers Independent News is aligned ideologically with the Democrat Party, but the FCC claimed a Chicago station presented what amounted to ads as “news.”

While I believe the station should have tagged ads as ads, I also believe the Big Labor content appropriate for shows comprising commentary. In other words, if there’s a socialist progressive talkmaster in the Chicago area, s/he could have legitimately covered Democrat-allied advocacy and it would have fallen within the parameters of the 1st amendment. I think disclosure of political advocacy is important, but only on a voluntary basis. Disclosure of bias is a matter of integrity.


Despite a pledge to revise the snoop questions, I do not believe the FCC has any business going physically into a news room to ask questions. Furthermore, I do not believe this federal commission has the authority to physically enter a newsroom for the purpose of gauging content. I do believe if a media outlet chose not to cooperate, that outlet could appeal to the local sheriff to stop the trespassing.

No issue is more important to me than the 1st amendment; it has been under attack by Democrats for decades. That amendment is the glue that holds the entire Bill of Rights together, and the U.S. has rights to free expression that legally surpass those of any other country in the world despite illicit transgressions by socialist progressive administrations.

The tragedy in the FCC news snoop debacle is that ideally, all media would safeguard this amendment. That organizations like WaPo and other establishment media are not outraged suggests you should read, view, or hear their content and assume it is pro-status quo, which today means pro-socialist progressive.

I wrote in my earlier column that the FCC chairman should be replaced. I didn’t go far enough. Any FCC commissioner supporting this intrusion should be replaced.

(Opinion by Kay B. Day/Feb. 21, 2014)

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About Kay Day

Kay B. Day is a freelance writer who has published in national and international magazines and websites. The author of 3 books, her work is anthologized in textbooks and collections. She has won awards for poetry, nonfiction and fiction. Day is a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors and the Authors Guild.
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2 Responses to FCC intrusion raises questions about legality, media bias

  1. Actually, Workers Independent News is a legitimate, credentialed news organization. And while it does cover news that involves “Big Labor,” the service has also been quite critical of unions.

    The FCC’s content determination that WIN is somehow not news is a complete overreach into defining journalism—the exact same thing that Republican FCC commissioner Ajit Pai was so angry about, and the exact same reason why the FCC dropped its Critical Information Needs study. The irony is that the FCC made its news determination about WIN just three weeks BEFORE the controversy over the CIN study. Does the right hand know what the left hand is doing?

    More information (including context) on the FCC’s case involving WIN here:


    This should be an issue of concern across the ideological spectrum—principally an absolutist First Amendment argument.

    • Kay Day says:

      Thanks for input. My position is that the FCC has no business intruding on right, left, or what’s in between press. First Amendment rules.

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