Duck Dynasty, Media Concentration, and Net Neutrality

Harold Feld of Public Knowledge writes very thoughtfully on his excellent blog about the connection between the free speech controversy over A&E’s suspension of Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson for his anti-gay comments, and the FCC’s policies against media consolidation/concentration and Internet neutrality.  When conservatives decry Robertson’s suspension as an abridgment of his free, conservative speech, and demand that he be reinstated so that “balance” is promoted on the otherwise “liberal” airwaves, they should be careful what they wish for — which appears to sound very much like a modern-day application of the FCC’s long-repealed Fairness Doctrine, hated by conservatives for suppressing THEIR free speech and deep-sixed by a conservative FCC back in the 1980′s. That repeal launched conservative talk radio, and conservatives ever since have warned that liberals were plotting to bring back the Fairness Doctrine, without any evidence, in order to somehow “balance” out Rush Limbaugh & Co.  Now the winds have changed, the shoe is on the other foot, the pot is calling the kettle, etc., etc.  Instead of heading into this intellectual trap, Feld argues that conservatives and liberals should join in promoting FCC policies that protect diversity of viewpoints in media, specifically media ownership limits in broadcast media, and Net Neutrality on the Internet.  Rather than regulate content itself, the FCC should rather ensure that there are enough different voices on the air and the Net so that a wide diversity of viewpoints can be heard.  Hear, hear.