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Saturday, April 10, 2004


FCC now engaged in fight it can't win - Opinion - thespectrum.com

FCC now engaged in fight it can't win - Opinion - thespectrum.com

Dear Mr. Ed Kociela,

I read your editorial "FCC now engaged in fight it can't win" on thespectrum.com's web site, and had several comments.

First, you say that the FCC is punishing Howard Stern for exercising his First Amendment Rights. This is simply incorrect. Corporations are granted a monopoly over a portion of the public broadcast spectrum. They are permitted to profit from that monopoly as much as they can. However, to keep that monopoly, those corporations are required to follow a number of rules, including rules about obscene material. Thus, this is not about Howard Stern's First Amendment Rights; it is about a corporation honoring the terms of its contract. Howard Stern can say or do anything he likes; Clear Channel and his other broadcast partners play those comments on cable, record and sell his comments on CD, tape, or film; or do any number of other things. The one thing they cannot do is broadcast those remarks over the public airwave without being reprimanded, paying a fine, or losing their license to the public spectrum,

Second, you argue that Howard Stern's success implies that he
"is not offensive to community standards at large". If sincere, this is a very naive statement. It is entirely possible to become very successful by appealing to a small but loyal fraction of the population. Indeed, in the world of "popular culture", that would seem to be more the rule than the exception.

Even if that were not generally true, however, it would still be true in Howard Stern's case. His particular appeal is that he is offensive. He says things that very few other people would willingly say in public. The difference between his fans and the rest of us is that his fans would like to say such offensive and vulgar things, if only they were not afraid. If Howard Stern were less offensive to "community standards", I dare say that he'd have many fewer listeners. That, of course, is why he continues to complain about being made to follow the rules.

The rest of your editorial is mere innuendo and nonsense. You attempt to equate Howard Stern to Lenny Bruce. Both were vulgar, of course, but at least Bruce was intelligent, whereas Stern is merely infantile. You attempt to equate the FCC enforcing its rules with a Nixon enemies list. This is simply unfounded - if not, I dare say you should report it as news. I dare say it would do wonders for your career. Finally, you take a few cheap shots are President Bush. Those comments are simply irrelevant.

I hope these comments will help you to write better editorials in the future. Remember, truth, reason, and logic are your friends!


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