Town Meeting on the Future of Media
Asheville-Buncombe Technical College
Ferguson Auditorium, Laurel Building
June 28, 2006, 6:00 PM
By Tim Peck
To FCC Commissioners:
Commissioners Copps and Adelstein,
I’m holding here a handout from the organization FreePress.net. [This was handed out at a meeting in Asheville where local educated political activists were coaching “Latinos” on how to lobby the FCC here tonight with prepared talking points.] It says, “In exchange for their free use of the public airwaves, local TV and radio broadcasters are supposed to serve the public interest.”
Hmmm . . . “The public interest.” What is this concept of the Public Interest? Since this is the very basis of the justification for government interference in the media marketplace, I think we should be very clear about what this means.
First, there is no such entity as “the public” that has a right to make legal claims. Only individuals have rights. The idea that there is a “public” that has a prior ownership claim on a spectrum of radio frequencies is a fantasy. I’d like to see that entity: The Public. I’d like to look “the public” in the eye. I’d like shake its hand and to ask “the public” to take hold of a pen and sign a contract agreeing not to violate my rights -- including my right to own media properties.
Second, it follows then that the concept of “the public interest” creates conflict where it otherwise would not exist. As long as we continue to have faith in this phantom called “the public interest” we will continue to have individuals and private groups fighting each other to the death to be recognized as “the public interest.” Just as in the movie Spartacus where everyone in the crowd says, “I am Spartacus,” “No, I am Spartacus,” we have everyone competing for the title of “the public interest.” “I am the public interest.” “No, I am the public interest.” All of those individuals and groups are clamoring to have their own narrow interests protected and promoted over against the interests of other individuals and groups. We cannot possibly give favors to all interests, all at once, and all of the time. Therefore, every individual and group has to lobby the power-brokers for the privilege of being regarded as “the public.” Just look around the room.
This is a condition of conflict created by the government, not the free market. In a free market, individuals own property and cannot be interfered with in the legal use and disposal of that property.
The government seems to reflexively take every opportunity to alienate me from my rights; my rights to liberty, to my life and to the products of my labors, including media properties.
And your transparent attempts tonight are no different. That’s why I’m calling for the abolishment of the FCC.