Should the Government Step in to Make Talk Radio More Balanced?

There is no mechanism for the U.S. or local government to control talk radio in order to create more balance. While government can insure that Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations and public law are enforced, interference in the right to freedom of expression via the radio transmissions would constitute an egregious violation of all that is good and right in America.

What is not good and right, however, is the lack of balance in individual talk radio formats. There is an overload of heated, histrionic, and shocking speech, radical activism, and social misconduct aimed at inflaming the emotions of unstable and intellectually vulnerable elements of society.

But the outrageous speech and high pitched shrilling is not anything that is actionable in terms of asking the government for help, unless laws are broken. The machine gun pace may be a mask for directing as much inflammatory manipulation and “dog whistle” coded statements as possible to the masses who actually pay attention to talk radio, and some of the statements have constituted incitement and threat.

There is a very old truth that individuals who find any material offensive can simply turn the radio off or change the station. No one is forcing listeners to attend to the repulsive speech.

If talk radio stations were forced to give up air time to talk show hosts who presented other or opposing views, then restriction of trade lawsuits, probably with proof of financial loss, would result.

One solution, however, is already in the form of underground radio, which is a new form of radio that utilizes a combination of the Internet, short range local broadcast, and relatively cheap facilities and equipment. There are thousands of underground radio stations that broadcast worldwide. Often times they are one or two person operations which only broadcast after school or work hours, and on the weekends.

With lower operating costs, underground radio stations are not as vulnerable to influence by advertisers and to corporate interests.

Government can assist the underground radio system as it has traditionally assisted the mainstream radio system through it’s development, by providing loans and grants as well as training and education.

Finally, there is pirate, or bootleg radio. These are illegal, unregulated stations which broadcast from mobile locations on land and out to sea. And the radio pirates can truly gum up the works of any imbalance in talk radio.

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