California Republican Party Vice Chairman Tom Del Beccaro of Lafayette today is helping to launch a new PAC, the “First Amendment Now Campaign,” to combat what he says are Democratic efforts to curtail conservative political speech.
The main issue is the Fairness Doctrine, a Federal Communications Commission policy dating from 1949 but abolished in 1987 that required broadcast license holders to present controversial issues of public importance in a way the FCC considered honest, equitable and balanced.
Although President Barack Obama repeatedly has said he opposes reinstating it – see here and here – and the U.S. Senate last month overwhelmingly approved an amendment nixing it, conservatives have continued to rally against it, leading some critics – see here, here and here – to wonder whether it’s an intentional effort to dangle some red meat as a distraction from other issues.
Still, Del Beccaro, California Political News and Views publisher Steve Frank and state Sen. Tony Strickland, R-Moorpark, along with a bunch of conservative talk radio personalities, are launching this new organization, asking for donations of $17.76 “to preserve our freedom.”
Besides the Fairness Doctrine, they say, they’re concerned about President Obama’s calls for “localism,” or requiring broadcast license holders to dedicate some of their airtime to the interests of their local community – obviously a concern for a conservative station such as KSFO-AM/560 that’s located in an overwhelmingly liberal place such as San Francisco.
And they’re also worried about President Obama’s calls for broadcast media ownership diversity, dating back to 2007 and echoed now in Congress. The President and supporters claim they’re concerned about a lack of female and minority ownership in the broadcast media, but opponents claim it’s just another back-door way to undercut conservative free speech.
So expect to hear a lot about this all across your AM radio dial as this new organization holds a kickoff rally next Tuesday, March 24 on the State Capitol’s north steps, and then as it moves forward with an effort to gather a million petition signatures it can present to U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein. The PAC promises to use its money “to preserve the First Amendment; to oppose the Fairness Doctrine, government-imposed diversity and localism; and to oppose candidates that favor the Fairness Doctrine.”