Biden his time?


Looking back to his run in this cycle’s Democratic primary, and like most candidates for federal office, Joe Biden (D-DE) did not spend vast amounts of time on the campaign trail discussing media policies. Nobody makes communications policy the centerpiece of a campaign. Few even mention it.

Look at the issues portion of his senatorial website and you see the headings Agriculture, Civil Rights, Crime, Defense, Domestic Violence, Drugs, Economy, Energy, Education, Environment, Health Care, Homeland Security, Labor, Seniors, Veterans, the War in Afghanistan, the War in Iraq and Women. We see no heading there that invites us to click in and discover his thoughts on communications policy.

We have renewed interest in Biden’s thoughts, since he’s now the presumptive Democratic candidate for Vice President. When he finally discussed the matter last fall, here’s what he said: "The Federal Communications Commission’s plan to lift its anti-monopoly regulations could have dangerous consequences. If this plan goes forward, two or three media conglomerates could end up controlling every broadcast medium in the country. From a safety perspective, what happens if one company controls the television, radio and internet services in a region and its servers go down during a natural disaster or terrorist attack? From a constitutional perspective, what happens when one company owns all of the airwaves in an area and it refuses to broadcast certain content? These are important security and constitutional issues best addressed by keeping the current rules in place."
Other reports note that Biden has tended to side with the RIAA over copyright issues, and that he’s skeptical about the need for preemptive net neutrality legislation, but otherwise, have little light to shed on his thoughts.

RBR/TVBR observation: Senators with strong opinions on communications matters generally are found on the Commerce Committee. Biden is not to be found there of course. And his lack of familiarity with the debate glares through in the statement we quoted above, from the 10/24/07 issue of RBR. In short, the FCC had no intention of further relaxing ownership rules to the point where there are but three companies. Quite to the contrary, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin went for his modest tweak of the cross-ownership rules, and although even that move is being challenged in court, he’s also being challenged for not opening the rules up enough. On the plus side, if Obama/Biden should win, is that Biden will likely have no input whatsoever into communications matters – he figures to be spending his time on foreign affairs, and that is a topic for some other news publication.