Chief beef: Ferree weighs in on PSA mandates


Ken Ferree is President of the Progress & Freedom Foundation, but he was a key exec at the FCC under Michael Powell as Chief of the Media Bureau. He is concerned that the FCC is about to require broadcasters to obey PSA dictates concerning the DTV transition. "I am disturbed by reports that the FCC will soon mandate that each and every local broadcaster air the exact same, state-sponsored, bureaucratically-crafted message about the digital television transition. The FCC would, if these reports are true, be pressing the panic button and trampling core Constitutional values in an effort that is wholly unnecessary in light of the voluntary consumer education initiative that has been offered by the broadcast industry."

Ferree noted that the NAB plan to address the transition is a "comprehensive multi-platform approach" which should be up to the job. "At the very least, broadcasters adhering to the NAB plan should be given ‘safe harbor’ from an unnecessary, government-mandated, one-size-fits-all approach."

TVBR/RBR observation: Ferree also noted that the constitutionally guaranteed right to speak is also the right not to speak. He may be correct in this, but we would suggest that he’s carrying his argument a good bit farther than is necessary in the current instance. Sure, broadcasters could choose to keep the DTV transition under their hat, but they have absolutely no earthly reason to do so. So please save that argument for some other occasion when its applicability is more to the point.