Groups Want FCC to Police Hate Speech on Talk Radio, Cable News Networks

Gautham Nagesh, The Hill, June 1, 2010

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is being urged to monitor “hate speech” on talk radio and cable broadcast networks.

A coalition of more than 30 organizations argue in a letter to the FCC that the Internet has made it harder for the public to separate the facts from bigotry masquerading as news.

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“As traditional media have become less diverse and less competitive, they have also grown less responsible and less responsive to the communities that they are supposed to serve,” the organizations wrote to the FCC. “In this same atmosphere hate speech thrives, as hate has developed as a profit-model for syndicated radio and cable television program masquerading as ‘news.'”

The organizations, which include Free Press, the Center for Media Justice, the Benton Foundation and Media Alliance, also argue that the anonymity of the Web gives ammunition to those that would spread hate.

The groups did not mention any specific programming on the right or the left in their letter, which supports a petition filed by the National Hispanic Media Coalition last year requesting a probe of the relationship between hate speech and hate crimes.

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“The Internet gives the illusion that news sources have increased, but in fact there are fewer journalists employed now than ever before. Moreover, on the Internet, speakers can hide in the cloak of anonymity, emboldened to say things that they may not say in the public eye.”

“For these reasons, as the Commission deliberates how the public interest will be served in the digital age, it should consider the extent of hate speech in media, and its effects.”

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