Cable TV content laws
29 Jun 1994
Monday the Supreme Court, on First Amendment grounds, said that cable
TV companies cannot be forced to carry local stations unless there is
economic necessity. Except for the last clause, that's perfectly
reasonable. Given that bandwidth is finite, forcing an information
provider to say something prevents them from saying something else (and
we aren't talking about circulation boxes on p. 4 of magazines).
Do you agree?
Or do you think there is some social good in the government controlling
the content of cable TV? Congress surely thinks so. In Houston,
Turner had to drop part of C-SPAN and part of a movie channel to put on
one of the broadcast shopping channels, KRTW. Is there any possible
way that makes any sense? Is there anyway it ever could? Not only is
KRTW more useless and less desirable, it's all already available.
This is all on a trajectory from the original liberal notion that the
airwaves are public property and therefore the government should
regulate content for the public good. It is nothing but censorship.
Will you repudiate such practices or do you find some social good that
is more important than free speech?
Not surprisingly, Clinton is all in favor of the current law that
forces broadcast stations to be carried. And, get this, he says it
provides diversity. Ding-dong, anybody home? This is patently false.
Even if it were true, it's clearly and a priori a content judgement
which surely must run squarely afoul of the First Amendment.
Seeing as you like to engineer people's lives for them (e.g. AA), does
it make any sense (on a different aspect of cable regulation) to try
and bring prices down and regulate line-ups so that more people can
watch more TV?