FCC can't tell WHAT what to play


Leon A. Williams of Philadelphia is the kind of person who appends "Esq." after his name, and you probably know what that means. And there’s more. In addition to being a lawyer (that IS what you guessed, isn’t it?) he is also a former candidate for public office. And he was none too pleased when his favorite Talk station, WHAT-AM Philadelphia, was approved for sale from Urban Radio I LLC, a subsidiary of Pierre Sutton’s Inner City Broadcasting Corporation, to Marconi Broadcasting Company LLC in a 5M deal filed with the Commission 11/14/06.

Williams cited his fear that the new owners would come in and change the format, and protested that not enough notice was given protesters who may wish to object to the transaction.

The FCC said that Williams was free to file a petition if he wished, but it wouldn’t matter. "It is well settled policy that the Commission does not regulate programming formats," explained the FCC, "nor does it take potential format changes into consideration in reviewing license assignment applications."

RBR/TVBR observation: It is a little matter of this thing called the First Amendment. Some of us are quite happy that the FCC is not allowed to hop the next Amtrak from Washington to Philadelphia and start telling the radio and television stations there (or anywhere else) what they may and may not say, play, purvey or parlay on their station.

So GAO, when you note the lack of an official FCC action to this complaint (when, four years from now when you get around to studying this year’s FCC activity?), instead of taking the Commission to task, please commend it for making no effort whatsoever to overstep its authority in this case, thus striking a blow for freedom of speech that benefits all of us, even complainant Leon A. Williams Esq.