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‘Diversity czar’ takes heat over remarks
Question of the Day
“At the very least, blind references to freedom of speech or the press serve as a distraction from the critical examination of other communications policies,” Mr. Lloyd wrote. “The purpose of free speech is warped to protect global corporations and block rules that would promote democratic governance.”
The FCC was asked about the passage, but a spokesman was unable to provide an explanation late Tuesday.
Rep. Greg Walden, Oregon Republican, asked FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski about Mr. Lloyd during a hearing last week.
“There are comments - video comments about Hugo Chavez,” Mr. Walden said. “I mean, there’s some pretty outrageous things being said, having been written in the past. And that troubles me that somebody that’s that opinionated, to the extreme element that he is - from my perspective, is not going to bring balance to that diversity position that you’ve created.”
Mr. Genachowski said Mr. Walden’s worries were misplaced. “Mark Lloyd is not working on these issues,” Mr. Genachowski said. “He’s not working on Fairness Doctrine issues. He’s not working on censorship issues. He’s … working on opportunity issues, primarily now on broadband adoption, focusing on making sure that broadband is available to all Americans.”
However, Seton Motley, communications director for the conservative-leaning Media Research Center and contributing editor to Newsbusters.org who has written critically about Mr. Lloyd on several occasions, said Mr. Lloyd appeared Tuesday at a meeting held by the FCC’s advisory committee on diversity that discussed the need to increase lending and licensing to minority-owned media outlets.
“They say he’s not involved in licensing and he’s involved in researching diversity,” Mr. Motley told the Washington Times, “but he sat in a meeting where licensing is very much part of the deal.”
A meeting agenda posted by the advisory committee says that “national broadband plans recommendations” also were discussed.
When asked for a clarification of Mr. Lloyd’s role at the FCC, a spokesman provided a letter that was written by Mr. Genachowski on Aug. 23 to Sen. Charles E. Grassley, Iowa Republican.
The chairman said Mr. Lloyd’s responsibilities were to help promote diversity of voices and “enhance opportunities for women, minorities and small businesses to participate in the communications marketplace, including the FCC’s auction and licensing requirements.”
In 2007, Mr. Lloyd co-authored a study for the Center for American Progress titled “The Structural Imbalance of Political Talk Radio,” which went into detail on how licensing rule changes could be used to bring more political balance to the airwaves.
Mr. Lloyd and co-author John Halpin argued in favor of concepts called “ownership diversity” and “localism” that would require government action to put more women and minorities - who are more likely to be liberal - on the air on independently owned stations. They said this would balance out the large broadcast networks, which they said are more likely to put male, conservative hosts on the air.
The researchers also proposed putting caps on the ownership of commercial radio stations, giving local authorities more control over radio licensing and requiring commercial owners “who fail to abide by enforceable public interest obligations” to pay fines that would go toward public broadcasting.
Mr. Grassley was sufficiently alarmed by the ideas that he sent a letter to Mr. Genachowski in August complaining that Mr. Lloyd had essentially advocated a “backdoor” way of reinstating the Fairness Doctrine - an old law that required broadcasters to provide opposing points of view on their programs.
The Center for American Progress, however, stood by the policy recommendations Mr. Lloyd proposed to the FCC while working at their think tank.
About the Author
Amanda Carpenter writes the daily “Hot Button” column for The Washington Times. She was formerly a national political reporter for Townhall.com, the leading online publication for news, opinion and talk. Prior to that, she was a reporter for Human Events. Ms. Carpenter has made numerous media appearances that include segments on the Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, BBC and other ...
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