Monday, May 31, 2010

Future of Media

Before the Federal Communications Commission. 445 Twelfth Street SW, Washington, DC 20554

In the matter of:
The Future of Media

Comments of
William Huston
PO Box 2873, Binghamton NY, 13902

May 21, 2010

Jointly Filed:

GN Docket 10-25
Future of Media

simultaneously filed under:
MM Docket 99-360
Broadcast Diversity

MB Docket 04-233
Broadcast Localism

MM Docket 99-360
Public Interest Obligations
of TV Broadcast Licensees

MB Docket 09-182
2010 Review of Broadcast Ownership Rules


"The Local Franchising Authority may require channel capacity for public use."
-- 1984 Cable Act

Author Bio

My name is William Huston. I have lived in and around Binghamton NY since 1998.

I have been involved in public access TV since 1995, having done many hours of live and taped audio and video productions. I helped to create the Binghamton Independent Media Center and the Progressive Media Center.

I have performed independent studies of media theory for many years. In 1995, I made an exhaustive study of local broadcasting and cable1. I work to promote Media Democracy.

I have served on the Community Advisory Board of WSKG, of our local PBS/NPR affiliate. I have also produced shows at WHRW-FM 90.5 -- station of the State University of NY.

In addition for producing entertainment and public affairs shows for local radio and public access television, I have also done legal and advocacy work to support public access TV. I have produced educational materials and how-to guides, and have filed petitions and lawsuits with various courts and regulatory agencies seeking legal compliance and enforcement actions against broadcast licensees and cable providers.

I am project coordinator of O2E-TV ("Open to Everyone"), a start up public access TV operation in Binghamton. I am also presently secretary for the New York chapter. of the Alliance for Community Media.

I make these comments solely on my own behalf.

I tend to appeal to "self-evident truths". Thus, while I may not footnote these comments as much as academics may like, my theories about mass media have been shaped principally through the work of the following authors and scholars:

Robert McChesney, Noam Chomsky, Ben Bagdikian, Jerry Mander, Sut Jhally, Richard Grossman, Richard Stallman, Michael Parenti, George Stoney,
Sidney W. Dean Jr., John Stauber, Sheldon Rampton.

1) See, Localism in Broadcasting and Cable in Binghamton NY, comments on FCC NOI Docket No. 04-233 (30 Dec 2004)

All of my comments embody a systems view of media, the economy, and Democracy, and refer to these two diagrams (click to enlarge)

Figure 1: Capitalist Media Inherently Unstable: Leads to Fascism and Poverty
Figure 2: Ideal Media System Essential for Empowered Citizens


My comments will cover the following subject areas.
Many of these pieces are interlocking.

  1. First Principles / Definitions
  2. A systems view
  3. The role of the government and public policy
  4. Localism and Mass Media
  5. Media, Elections, and Democracy
  6. Educational Broadcasting vs Public Broadcasting
  7. Capitalism (profits and ownership), Corporations, and the Media
  8. Free Speech? Where is it?
  9. "The News"
  10. PEG, Public Access TV, Community Television: Community Media Centers:


  1. First Principles:
    • Egalitarianism,
    • Democracy,
    • Rights
    • Constitutional Republic
    • Channel Bias
    • Chartered Operators
    • Corporations are not Persons!
      Asimov's Law of Robotics
    • Common Carriers.

  2. A Systems View :

    The Dangers of Positive Feedback:
    • Positive feedback explosive, destructive, and unstable
    • Capitalism when unchecked tends towards positive feedback (accumulation of wealth and power)
    • Capitalist principles when applied to the media has great dangers for our democracy.

      Positive feedback
      From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

      Positive feedback, sometimes referred to as "cumulative causation", refers to situations where some force is amplified, then summed to its input. Positive feedback often leads to oscillation. Thus, mechanical, electrical, chemical, economic, or other systems should be damped via frictional forces or added negative feedback for system stability.

      Under strong positive feedback, in absence of stabilizing forces, systems accelerate towards a non-linear (chaotic, unpredictable) region, which is often accompanied with a large release of energy and deformation. Thermal runaway destroys semiconductor junctions. Positive feedback in chemical reactions causes explosions. Positive feedback in the mechanical world cause bridges to collapse. Positive feedback in economic systems cause well-known boom, then bust cycles.

      After this release of energy, then the system may move into a new stable state if the positive feedback is somehow negated or damped.

      The effect of a positive feedback loop may not be "positive" in the sense of being desirable. Positive refers to the direction of change rather than the desirability of the outcome. A negative feedback loop tends to reduce or inhibit or stabilize a process, while a positive feedback loop tends to expand or promote it and will often ultimately destabilize it.

      The 1940 Tacoma Narrows Bridge collapsed in 1940, due to a design flaw which allowed positive feedback to accumulate.

      Positive feedback in chemical and nuclear reactions causes explosions

  3. The role of the government

    • The people should be able to access, control, and use, that which we own!
    • A Commons-based Regulatory Model of Broadcast. (inc. public rights of way)

    • Bad Media Exists due to Bad Public Policy.
      Good Media is Possible via Good Media Policy!

      Media, political, and economic systems are artificial.
      They are very much the result of laws, courts, and regulatory agencies.
      These systems can be designed to serve the public good,
      or they can be designed to benefit a small class.

  4. Localism and Mass Media

  5. Media, Elections, and Democracy
    • The harms of Money=Speech

  6. Educational Broadcasting vs Public Broadcasting
    • Why public education (and educational broadcasting) is a good idea.

      • In Rights of Man, Thomas Paine identified two principle forms of government
        which existed in the world before America's experiment in Democracy:
        a) Rule by Blood, usually justified by sanction of the One True and Holy God,
        and b) Rule by Military Force.

        Paine describes with great eloquence how Democracies are superior, a system
        where the people hold the sovereign power, creates more favorable conditions
        for most people,

      • Democracy is a good idea!

        Our Republic is a representative democracy,
        and the design seems pretty good!

        If you sign up for a dictatorship, where the people are unempowered
        servants of the state, how do you know you'll have a benevolent leader?

        Yes there are people who say no.
        Yes, we've heard about the wolves and the sheep arguing about dinner.
        But that's what the Constitution and Bill of Rights is for, to protect the
        rights of the individual.

        Democracies have their warts.
        Anything else is some degree of fascism or despotism.

      • If we are to have a properly working democracy then this requires an informed citizenry.

        Aristotle wrote the state is perpetuated through the education of it's citizens, therefore education is public.
        Aristotle advocated less indoctrination, that people should be taught a certain set of facts.
        Yes, Aristotle advocated that people be taught a board spectrum of base information,
        humanities and sciences, but also in teaching people HOW to think, and how to persuade:
        rhetoric, logic, induction, and deduction. These both to help the person be a better citizen, and also
        so to help the person avoid being manipulated and deceived by people who want to exploit.

        If we defund public education, then common people will not have the tools of logic and rhetoric.
        People will less likely to be able to discern fact from opinion, truth from marketing.
        This makes them more ideal for factory-work, obedience to authority, etc.
        ... and less able to be an informed empowered citizen in a democracy.

        as is happening in NY state, if we create a class,
        what you know depends

    • The Failure and Fraud of Public Broadcasting

      Public Broadcasting is a great idea!
      However, we do not have this in America.

      What we call "public broadcasting" (PBS, NPR, PRI, CPB) should be called Educational Broadcasting, where the public have little input, control, or voice.

      Don't get me wrong: Educational Broadcasting is also a great idea! Just as Public Education is a good idea!

      Public Broadcasting should be 100% funded by a socialist mechanism
      for the common good. (taxes on corporate profits, taxes on us, user fees, license fees, grants, donations)
      If Educational Broadcasting is funded by the rich, it will serve the rich.

      Pacifica Model:
      • Localism
      • Diversity / Many Voices
      • Open operations/Transparency
      • Public Access
      • Empowered Advisory Boards
      • Non-Corporate Funding

      • Mega-station incapable of serving diverse local communities
      • Union contract keeps the people OUT
      • Network Time Agreements keep the people OUT
      • Board controlled by local law firms, defense contractors, corporate media, and fat-cats
      • Commercial money brings commercial messages

  7. Capitalism (profits and ownership), Corporations, and the Media

    • The Dangers of Positive Feedback Unstable, Explosive, Toxic, and Anti-Democratic.
      Endogenous Systems Parkinson's Law Parasitism

    • Ownership is Access, Use, and Control.

      If I cannot access, use, or control
      that which I own,
      then this means I am the victim of a theft.

    • Stewards, not Owners:

      The legal concept of capital ownership
      creates class: haves and the have-nots.
      When "who gets rights" is divided into classes,
      this is no longer a democracy.

      the notion that broadcasters can operate for profits
      without controls requiring public access

      It is utterly inconsistent with having a democracy.
      We should not be surprised by cases like Citizens United.

      Capitalism, Corporations, Ownership, and Profits
      are designed to divide people into classes,
      and assign rights to owners,
      and deny rights to the masses.

    • Media Ownership is a Straw Man

      Ownership is everything! -- Ownership is control, access and use.
      Ownership is irrelevant -- if there is control, access, and use.

      Minority ownership is irrelevant, if there is minority access!

    • The Corporate Media is owned by a legal fiction,
      and funded by Fiat Funny Money.

      If it was well recognized that the people's government
      has been chartered to regulate the value of currency,
      yet today it is controlled by a cartel of wealthy bankers.

      Easy low cost money is made available for building WalMarts,
      and other Big Box stores, yet none for small businesses.

      Note that since this money does not really exist,
      since it was printed on the spot, the debt created
      expressly for the construction of a WalMart,
      that same debt could be used to fund small businesses
      to operate at a loss. As pointed out by Noam Chomsky
      in the film "The Corporation", this might be good
      for the nation and help it get out of recession.

    • Hidden Cost of Commercial Media

      "I don't want a hidden tax on my corn flakes to pay for a media system which does not represent my values!"
      Yet, this is what we have today.

    • How Intellectual Property law destroys culture.

    • Funding for community media (open to everyone media) must come via socialist mechanism, such as a a tax on profits of chartered, for-profit commercial operations.


      • All Profits arise from the enclosure of the Commons -- that which cannot be owned,
      • with Enclosure, access is denied to an essential resource
      • Enclosure requires the use of coercive force
      • rents are charged with by their nature are excessive
      • Artificial Scarcity raises costs.
      • essential things (water) is turned into a commodity
      • new artificial markets are created and controlled
      • Demand plus Artificial Scarcity creates Windfall Profits and Black Markets
      • When scarcity is imposed coercively
        by the force of a gun,
        this is called an extortion racket.
      • Scarcity of local voices -- The common man cannot be forced to maintain the capitalist channel bias, therefore, he must be kept off the air at all costs!
      • Scarcity of good music --> makes ads more catchy
      • Commons, illegitimately seized and converted to private property.
      • Rights of free speech exist on the commons.
      • There is no such rights on private property.
      • profits always lead to bust
      • profits encourage the concentration of wealth and power
      • Profit = Exploitation
      • Profit = Loss (from the economic system)

  8. Free Speech? Where is it?
    • First Amendment is for the mutual benefit of producers and consumers of information.
      Access to Diverse and Antagonistic Information Sources Necessary for educated consumers, and electorate.
    • Censorship and Propaganda
      Two sides of the same coin, both harmful.
    • Censorship
      • Obscenity and Indecency:
        • Intellectual Property
        • Creates artificial scarcity of art and information
        • Creates class us users
        • Artificial Scarcity raises costs.
      • Prior Restraint
      • Editorial Control
  • cannot be defined
  • alleged injury is based on preferences and not rights,
  • enforcement will always be arbitrary and capricious
  • are censorship mechanisms inconsistent with the First Amendment
  • Propaganda
    • Advertising
    • Public Relations
    • Fake News
  1. "The News"

    1. How is it funded? Commercial Activity: Channel Bias.
      1. Nothing inherently wrong with commerce! Commerce will naturally occur. Markets will spontaneously spring up, Farmers and craftsmen will show their products and exchange will occur via barter, or exchange of standard money.
      2. The problem is: our Economy has been enclosed!!!
        Commerce in this system means Moving Federal Reserve Notes, through Corporate/Banker-controlled farming, manufacture, distribution, and retail
      3. Whenever we use FRNs as a means of exchange, some banker makes a profit. THIS CANNOT BE EASILY SEEN.

      4. Money has been enclosed!
      5. Farming has been enclosed!
      6. Manufacturing has been enclosed!
      7. Markets have been enclosed!
      8. The provision of food and water have been enclosed!
      9. Our public schools have been enclosed!
      10. Distribution has been enclosed!
    2. Commercial is defined as
    3. FRNs = fiat currency, inherently inflationary, unconnected utterly to the gold standard or any other basis in the real world,
      created as debt to bankers. Mechanism of perpetual debt. Inherently unstable as the debt is not created in the system. Financial crashes are inevitable and to be expected with such a currency!
    4. Capitalism (profit,
    5. Is all commercial activity good for We the People? This is what we are seeing
    6. should have a rich system of non-commercial news

  2. PEG, Public Access TV, Community Television: Community Media Centers:

    1. By What Authority? Under Color of Law.
      "The Local Franchising Authority
      may require channel capacity for public use."
      -- 1984 Cable Act

      I don't know if propaganda is always designed by devious people,
      no doubt sometimes it is.

      But perhaps it is sometimes
      mistakenly crafted by good-hearted people.
      A good intention gone bad. It becomes like a parasite,
      stealing just enough life energy so the host doesn't die.

      This statement gets me befuddled and bewildered.
      There is so much confusion here!
      It's hard to know where to start.

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